NASA’S NEW PLANET-HUNTING SATELLITE: TESS
Exoplanets, habitable zones and super-Earths..the quest for extraterrestrial life is now closer than ever with the launch of TESS: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
On Monday the 16th of April 2018, at,
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to launch today, April 16th 2018, at 6:32 p.m. EDT. This NASA satellite will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, aboard the Falcon 9 rocket of the Space X company.
Watch the launch live, tonight, at Space.com: https://www.space.com/17933-nasa-television-webcasts-live-space-tv.html
TESS will be surveying the sky, looking for planets beyond our Solar System: exoplanets! For the next two years, this space telescope will survey more than 200 000 stars to find exoplanets. These will be identified using the astronomical transit. This technique consists of spotting exoplanets that periodically block part of the light emitted by their star. These periodic eclipses make it possible to determine the size of the planets that cause them.
The planets that will be found by TESS will be brighter and closer to us than the actual exoplanet sample, making it possible for telescopes on Earth to determine their mass. With the mass and the size of the planets on hand, astrophysicists will be able to calculate their density and distinguish rocky planets from gaseous planets. Finally, some of these rocky planets identified will be positioned at a distance from their star that will allow them to have liquid water on their surface (the planet will be not too hot, not too cold). These planets will represent the best candidates in the search for life!
Scientists are optimistic and hope that TESS’s mission will likely find and catalogue thousands of exoplanet candidates! The information collected by TESS will complement the future James Webb Space Telescope’s data. Its launch is planned for May 2020. This particular space telescope will instead use a spectrometry technique to identify the gases that make up the exoplanets’ atmospheres. It will therefore make it possible to search for biosignatures on the exoplanets found by TESS.
The scientific community if more than excited by this mission’s potential!