NASA’s New Satellite Will Search For Undiscovered Exoplanets

April 16 23:04 2018

Our generation is the first to find out the answer.

SpaceX halted the countdown a little more than two hours before its Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to carry the Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. “The first thing is we’re looking for water vapor”, Seager said, “because all life, as we know it, needs liquid water”. It’s conceivable that one will have an atmosphere containing molecules such as free oxygen that indicate biological activity.

“So TESS takes the next step”.

To understand the atmospheres of exoplanets, we have to examine how they interact with starlight. These so-called “transits” may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been detecting planets via the transit method for years.

The Webb telescope, deploying a giant, segmented, light-collecting mirror that will ride on a shingle-like platform, is created to capture light directly from the planets themselves.

The satellite is tasked with “a mission to detect planets outside of our solar system”, NASA said on its website, referring to the so-called exoplanets.

Kepler, which now runs out of fuel and stops operating by the end of 2018, has already found more than 5,000 candidate exoplanets, of which about half have been confirmed by other telescopes. “Kepler was a statistical survey that looked at a small patch of sky for four years and taught us that Earths are everywhere”.

The launch costs for the TESS satellite amount to $87 million, NASA officials have revealed prior to the launch. This could be how planets that support life are found. TESS will look at as many as 200,000 stars in the closest 300 light-years around Earth. Its job is to find and characterize planets that will become the main targets of future telescopes.

There is a huge possibility that the NASA crewed flight tests later this year might turn out to be the actual crewed spaceflight launch and SpaceX is making its Dragon Capsule ready for the task.

To identify them, TESS will probe faraway stars for interesting data about their brightness.

NASA Astrophysics director Paul Hertz has said TESS will up the ante for planet research once it reaches orbit. “If planets are everywhere, then it is time for us to find the planets that are closest to us orbiting bright nearby stars, because these will be the touchstone system”. It is optimised to observe smaller, cooler stars that emit mostly red light. The dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is 1,000 times dimmer than our sun, and is known to host seven closely orbiting planets.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: And that is very unsatisfying because after all, what scientists really want to do is find another planet like our own, one that some form of life could call home. In this “lunar resonant” orbit, the spacecraft is created to collect data while outbound from the Earth, and then it will transmit the data back to ground stations from 107,000km above the planet’s surface at its closest approach.

Nasa’s new planet-hunter to seek Earth-like worlds

Artist’s rendering NASA’s TESS satellite which will search for habitable nearby planets

NASA’s New Satellite Will Search For Undiscovered Exoplanets
 
 
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