New NASA Satellite Called TESS Could Discover Thousands of New Planets

NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet Hunting Satellite TESSMore

The satellite will figure out "the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars", providing future researchers with an exhaustive set of new targets for more follow-up studies, including the potential to determine "their capacity to harbor life", the U.S. space agency said. That's why NASA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and and other collaborators are targeting stars within hundreds or, at most, thousands of light-years: It will make the detailed searches yet to come that much easier. TESS was conceived in 2006 as a small mission privately funded by individuals at MIT, Google, and the Kavli Foundation. That will enable it to have a long-term mission beyond its two-year objective.

Further follow-ups on potentially habitable planets could be done using more powerful telescopes, such as NASA's yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, which is created to analyze alien atmospheres and help scientists look for potential signs of life.

NASA predicts that TESS could find more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of the Earth.

NASA believes that TESS will build on Kepler's momentum and open the study of exoplanets in unprecedented ways. His four cameras will focus on the 200,000 brightest stars. 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.

"They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars", Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at Nasa's Goddard Spaceflight Centre, told reporters on Sunday.

TESS is expected to reveal 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets, NASA said. Of these, officials anticipate, 300 will be Earth-size exoplanets or double-Earth-size Super Earths.

Artist's impression of TESS in space. All the information it gathers will be beamed down to a lab for algorithms to refine the data and extract important details from it. It will collect about 27 gigabytes per day - that's about 6,500 song files - and send data back every two weeks. The music of the stars, however, is not as polished for human ears as the latest Taylor Swift album.

TESS will survey far more cosmic terrain than its predecessor, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009, taking in some 85 percent of the skies.

According to Martin Still, the program scientist working on the TESS mission, the launch comes "with certainty" that TESS will find many nearby exoplanets.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is "in excellent health and remains ready for launch", SpaceX said on Twitter. The new targeted launch date is Wednesday, April 18.

Stay tuned for updates on more potential launch delays.

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