Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

SpcaeX readying to launch NASA's TESS telescope

SpcaeX readying to launch NASA's TESS telescope

"Launch teams are standing down today to conduct additional guidance navigation and control analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Wednesday, 18 April", Nasa said.

It's not clear from where NASA takes that estimate, but it is likely the agency simply hopes two find an exoplanet in every other of the 200,000 starts it will be pointing the telescope at. The reason is that the majority of stars out there are what are termed M-dwarfs, and these are smaller and cooler than our Sun, and therefore the zone of ambient temperature that would keep water in a liquid state is much closer in. Furthermore, because a host star illuminates a transiting planet from behind, some of the starlight passes through the planet's atmosphere (if it exists). Using four wide-field cameras developed by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, TESS will observe each one over the course of its quest.

Kepler will give the answer of a single query.

"It was meant to take a gander at 150,000 stars in a genuinely wide field of view without flickering, for a long time", she told columnists on the eve of the dispatch. We already have a spacecraft that searches for planets called Kepler.

TESS and Kepler utilize a similar arrangement of identifying planetary travels, or shadows give a role as they go before their star.

"Our planet-hunting @NASA_TESS spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that'll allow it to study almost the entire sky over 2 years", NASA wrote on Twitter.

SpaceX launch cancelled NASA's TESS
AFP GETTYSpaceX launch cancelled NASA illustration of TESS

While TESS should be great at finding planets, it doesn't have the scientific firepower to analyze them.

NASA TV is broadcasting TESS-related content up until the launch, and you can watch it all via the embedded video below.

TESS stands for "Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite" - in German: satellite for the collection of passing exoplanets.

"The TESS mission represents a dream come true for me and for the many scientists and engineers who have worked on the mission", said Stassun. This will alert scientists of new planets ranging from those the size of Earth to massive gas giants. CHEOPs and the other scopes will then figure out the position, mass, density, atmosphere and other data about the planets.

TESS team partners include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, Orbital ATK, Nasa's Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. One of the many fantastic things that Kepler told us is that planets are everywhere and there are all kinds of planets out there.

"It really has a chance to find a rocky planet, that's the right distance from its star, the right temperature to have life on its surface".

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