SpaceX launching NASA's exoplanet-hunting spacecraft at 3:51 pm PDT
SpaceX launching NASA's exoplanet-hunting spacecraft at 3:51 pm PDT
Artist concept of TESS in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star. Image credit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
19 April, 2018, 06:08
TESS will then use a series of complex maneuvers to head into a never-before-used orbit, reaching about 232,000 miles beyond the Earth, to photograph the skies.
Unlike Kepler, which peered deep into a narrow stretch of sky to find faraway planets around stars like the sun, Tess' survey will be "wide and shallow", Ricker explained. Super-Earths between the sizes of Earth and Neptune.
"The sky will become more attractive, will become more awesome" knowing there are planets orbiting the stars we see twinkling at night, said NASA's top science administrator, Thomas Zurbuchen. TESS is expected to discover close to 50 planets for further study.
Does life exist beyond Earth?
ALIEN LIFE: Tess has no instruments capable of detecting life. It's not designed for that.
"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". The Webb telescope is created to examine the atmospheres of exoplanets to look for traces of oxygen, carbon dioxide, or methane - which could suggest the presence of life.
"TESS forms kind of a bridge between what we've learned about exoplanets to date and where we're headed in the future", said Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, at the pre-launch press conference. Kepler has found more than 5000 exoplanet candidates so far, and confirmed about half of them. The spacecraft aims to add thousands of exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, to the galactic map for future study.
While Kepler has focused on stars thousands of light-years away, Tess will concentrate on our stellar neighbors, dozens or hundreds of light-years away.
TESS is created to hunt for alien planets around 200,000 of the nearest and brightest stars in our galaxy. That's the best astronomers can do for now. It also will be more feasible for robotic explorers to set sail for these new worlds in the decades and centuries ahead.
At it closest indicate Earth, TESS will send out that information back to researchers in the world, a procedure that will take about 9 hours each time. It is created to look stars of all ages and sizes within a few hundred light-years of Earth, and it will be able to canvass the entire sky in just two years.
Update 16 April 2018: The scheduled 16 April launch of the TESS satellite has been delayed. The cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses a mere 4 inches across (10 centimeters) will be off during the lunar flyby. Satellite maker Orbital ATK's Robert Lockwood said he expects Tess to take exoplanet discovery to a whole new level. SpaceX will try to land the rocket on the drone ship "Naturally I Still Love You".
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