Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

NASA Set To Launch TESS On Hunt For New Worlds

NASA Set To Launch TESS On Hunt For New Worlds

The data will be collected during a two-year period in which TESS will survey the entire sky by breaking it into 26 equal sectors.

The satellite, TESS, is the USA space agency's newest planet-hunting spacecraft that will search for undiscovered planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets.

Ultimately, this is part of a broad effort by NASA, MIT and scientists around the world to scout out planets that may suitable for human-or other-life.

TESS was encapsulated inside the Falcon 9 rocket's payload shroud last week in preparation for its transfer to SpaceX's rocket hangar at Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad. This orbit maximizes the amount of sky the TESS spacecraft can image while keeping the spacecraft in a safe thermal and radiation environment. The primary weather concern for the launch day is strong winds, NASA said in a statement late Saturday.

But unlike Kepler, which fixed its gaze on a range of stars within a tiny fraction of the sky, TESS will scan a broader swath of the heavens to focus on 200,000 pre-selected stars that are closer and thus among the brightest as seen from Earth.

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This is the second time NASA is relying on a used Falcon 9 rocket to get equipment to the space station, and it's the third time a used Dragon cargo capsule will carry supplies to the ISS, as well. TESS is scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018.

Based on the light emitted by the stars, the satellite will be able to catalog thousands of planets, NASA said.

TESS will look for exoplanets using the transit method, observing slight dips in the brightness of stars as planets pass in front of them.

Through TESS, scientists will attempt to track super-earths - these are planets that could support life. "Those small stars will produce the biggest signals, and we have to start somewhere", says Angus, who remains hopeful about what could be found. TESS will identify thousands of potential new planets for further study and observation. It's the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research. The media outlet is also broadcasting live coverage of the TESS launch, courtesy of the USA space agency. And mass divided by size equals density, so astronomers can determine whether they're looking at a puffy ball of gas or a solid chunk of rock. "The thing that we can imagine is that there's this armada of nanosatellites that'll be sweeping out from the Earth to send back information".

TESS the planet hunter is getting ready to launch.

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