Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

NASA all set to launch next planet-hunting telescope

NASA's positive on next planet-hunting mission launch NASA all set to launch next planet-hunting telescope
Frank Williams | 16 April, 2018, 06:14

Instead of the regular care packages usually sent to NASA astronauts on the International Space Station, SpaceX hopes to fire an exoplanet satellite known as TESS into the great expanse.

"TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions", he added.

Lori Glaze, the Present head of this Planetary Geophysics, Geology and Geochemistry Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will become acting director of this Planetary Sciences Division when his newest function is assumed by Green, agency officials said.

"We should be able to find 20,000 planets of all sizes ranging from Jupiter-sized planets to planets the size of Earth or even the size of Mars".

The TESS satellite will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will hunt for new exoplanets to determine if they could harbor life. More than 500,000 stars will come under its gaze during its two-year lifespan.

At last count NASA's planet finder has helped identify 2400 alien planets of all sizes, including entire solar systems, orbiting faraway stars.

However, don't expect us to find another Earth overnight. 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.

Although about to start a new campaign, it is gradually running out of fuel and drifting further away from Earth.

During its almost ten-year term in space, the Kepler mission confirmed more than 2,600 exoplanets, many of them thousands of light years away. It would sail around the Earth every 13.7 days, in an elliptical orbit.

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TESS will survey the sky, looking for small dips in a distant star's light as a planet passes between the satellite and its star.

"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars".

But if Kepler was a telephoto aimed at dim targets far in the distance, TESS is an ultra-wide-angle lens that will watch almost the entire visible sky.

Kepler, who has discovered over 4500 planets and exoplanets, was placed on the Earth's orbit in 2009. But since the 13 observation strips in each hemisphere overlap at the poles, TESS will have eyes on both the northern and southern polar skies for almost a year at a time.

The NASA-funded spaceship is not larger than a refrigerator and has four cameras that were designed, conceived, and built at MIT, with a single wide-eyed vision, which is to survey the nearest and brightest stars in the sky for the signs of passing planets.

This stable 13.7 day "lunar resonant" orbit, which has never been tried before, should allow TESS to operate for well beyond two years, said Professor Ricker.

TESS will have enough fuel to get into the planned orbit and to get its mission done for at least 2 years.

"TESS is going to essentially provide the catalog, like the phone book, if you will, of all the best planets for following up, for looking at their atmospheres and studying more about them."

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