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NASA all set to launch next planet-hunting telescope

17 Avril 2018

His calculations will help astronomers confirm the masses and ages of the new planets they find.

NASA is all set to launch its next hunt for planets outside our solar system as preparations get underway for the launch of the TESS satellite, which will be carried into space in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday morning.

While that will take instruments not yet built, "the TESS planets should be really great candidates for us to start to peer into the atmospheres of these planets with spectroscopy, what allows us to put together the atoms and molecules making up that atmosphere", Boyd said. Powerful cameras on TESS will monitor each section for at least 27 days at a time, looking at the brightest stars.

Just like the Kepler spacecraft launched by NASA in March 2009, TESS will scan the galaxies for exoplanets. The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come.

"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.

Like Kepler, TESS will serve as a planetary population census giving astronomers a better idea as to the origin and evolution of planetary systems - including our own. This includes 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars.

In its first year of operation, the telescope will observe the sky of the southern hemisphere, while in the second year of the northern hemisphere, to cover more than 85% of the sky, the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency transmits.

The planned launch of TESS comes on the heels of NASA delaying the liftoff of its hotly-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope. "Still, this is a remarkable time in human history and a huge leap for our understanding of our place in the universe". Of these, some 300 are expected to be Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets, which are worlds no larger than twice the size of Earth.

The ultimate goal is to find small, probably rocky planets orbiting in a sweet spot around stars that's not too hot, and not too cold.

With Kepler running low on fuel and nearing the end of its life, TESS aims to pick up the search while focusing closer, on planets dozens to hundreds of light years away. The Kepler Space Telescope from NASA managed to reveal 2,300 of the exoplanets. "It's going to be a game-changer in our ability to study planets".

One of those interesting deviations occurred over the Arctic, according to atmospheric scientist and ATom team researcher Róisín Commane at Columbia University in New York City. "To me, the most exciting part of any mission is the unexpected result, the one that nobody saw coming".

NASA all set to launch next planet-hunting telescope