Published: Thu, April 19, 2018
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Takes Off From Cape Canaveral After Delay

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Takes Off From Cape Canaveral After Delay

According to NASA, such transits take place when "a planet's orbit carries it directly in front of its parent star". The launching is made for the search on planets around the other stars in space and galactic neighborhood.

Ground-based telescopes initially will help verify suspected planets and measure their masses and densities to determine what sort of planets they are.

Fairly small as spacecraft go, the 800-pound, 4 foot-by-5-foot Tess (362-kilogram, 1.2 meter-by-1.5 meter) will ride a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA's Spitzer and Hubble observatories and eventually the James Webb Space Telescope then will study selected exoplanets from space. The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come.

She was part of a team that built four cameras that serve as the spacecraft's eyes. They could fit in a mailbox. TESS will survey far more cosmic terrain than its predecessor, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009. Many are too distant and dim to make easy candidates for follow-up study.

The stars being studied by TESS are between 30 to 100 times brighter than those surveyed by the Kepler and K2 missions and TESS will cover a sky area 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler. AI could allow a Mars Rover, for example, to operate for weeks or months when out of contact with Earth.

Tess - short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The Webb will be able to analyze planets' atmospheres for signatures of habitability. The company announced that it would be conducting additional analysis of the rocket's guidance, navigation and control system.

Yesterday, the rocket performed flawlessly.

Minutes after launch, SpaceX plans to land the Falcon 9's first-stage booster on an autonomous drone ship named "Of Course I Still Love You", hundreds of miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

"With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses", said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. As NASA explained at the time, the evidence was in the data Kepler collected, but it took an AI program to find what human scientists had missed.

A new voyage is hopefully setting sail tonight; one that could lead to the discovery of many new worlds, some of which may even harbor life.

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