Musk's SpaceX Launches Planet-Hunter Satellite to Orbit

19 April, 2018, 06:29 | Author: Bertha Harmon
  • TESS Mission - NASA Blogs

TESS is the successor to NASA's much-loved Kepler space telescope, which has found nearly two-thirds of the more than 3,700 exoplanets we now know about. Scientists expect to discover thousands of planets that, over time, will undergo further scrutiny by powerful telescopes in space and on Earth.

In this image released by SpaceX, NASA' s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 40, Monday, April 16, 2018, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Tess satellite, meanwhile, kept heading toward orbit with help from the Falcon rocket's second stage.

"This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances", NASA said in a statement.

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LIVE: SpaceX launching NASA's planet hunting satellite from Cape Canaveral. It will take two months for Tess to reach its final scientific orbit, which will stretch all the way to the moon.

NASA expects to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, perhaps hundreds of them Earth-sized or "super-Earth" sized - no larger than twice as big as our home planet.

The TESS mission, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, is created to find potential planets orbiting stars close to Earth.

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NASA's Tess spacecraft has embarked on a quest to find new worlds around nearby stars that could support life.

The planets discovered by Kepler are too distant and too faint for practical study. "By human nature, we look for exploration and adventure, and this is an opportunity to see what's next", NASA's Sandra Connelly, a science program director, said Sunday on the eve of the originally scheduled launch, which was pushed back until Wednesday. Although the primary objective is, obviously, to successfully deploy the satellite, this is also one of the SpaceX rockets which will attempt a landing.

TESS will target 200,000 of the brightest stars in our celestial neighborhood, looking for the faint dimming of starlight as an exoplanet passes over a given star's disk.

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