Tech & Science NASA Is Launching Its Next Planet-Hunting Telescope

19:50  12 april  2018
19:50  12 april  2018 Source:   Newsweek

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On April 16 NASA is launching a new planet - hunting telescope , the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, to take over the reigns. But it’ll be a sad day when Kepler finally comes to an end. Its legacy, though, will live long into the future.

NASA ’s next planet hunter , the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is scheduled to launch as early as April 16, 2018. Powerful telescopes like NASA ’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope can then further study these exoplanets to search for important characteristics, like their

An artist's conception of what TESS will look like in action. © NASA'S GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER An artist's conception of what TESS will look like in action. NASA is planning to launch its next telescope into space on Monday during a window that opens at 6:32 p.m. Eastern time. The instrument, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and nicknamed TESS, is designed to identify thousands of exoplanets. Scientists are excited about the prospect the mission holds for new discoveries, but if you're just learning about the mission now, here's what you need to know.

TESS is the successor to Kepler, which revolutionized exoplanet science and is responsible for spotting almost three quarters of the planets astronomers have identified to date. But Kepler will run out of fuel sometime in the next few months, so scientists have been working for years to make sure something would be ready to replace it.

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Its discoveries will add to those already made by NASA ’s Kepler telescope , and provide new targets of interest for upcoming missions like the James Webb Still, given the excitement around exoplanets at the moment, you can understand the concern for what is set to be the next great planet hunter .

NASA 's next exoplanet-hunting space telescope has arrived in Florida, two months ahead of its planned launch . Space . NASA 's Next Planet Hunter Will Launch a 'New Era of Exoplanet Research'.

The new mission was inspired by Kepler's approach to spotting exoplanets, although planning for TESS began before Kepler even launched. Both telescopes are designed to spot the tiny dips in a star's brightness as a planet passes between the telescope and the star.

Kepler's main mission did that for a specific patch of stars, staring at the same section of the sky constantly. Instead, TESS is designed to cover the whole sky in 26 different segments. "One of the things that had never really been done in space was a comprehensive search for transits," TESS scientific leader George Ricker, an astronomer at MIT, told Newsweek.

But TESS is still targeting a specific subset of stars: It is focused on small bright stars that are fairly close to Earth. "This will really be the first time that many of these really bright stars, that have names, that we know and love, will be surveyed for variations," Ricker said.

NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds

  NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds NASA is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.Its main goal over the next two years is to scan more than 200,000 of the brightest stars for signs of planets circling them and causing a dip in brightness known as a transit.

Will NASA 's TESS spacecraft revolutionize exoplanet hunting ? January 28, 2015. At the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society earlier this month, the NASA Kepler Space Telescope team announced its 1,000th discovery of a planet outside our solar system.

Photo Credit: NASA . NASA is busy getting ready to launch its flagship James Webb Space Telescope , but thanks to a surprise donation from It will also look closely at individual stars to hunt for exoplanets with sensors that NASA says represent a "huge leap" past the current state of the art.

There's also a practical reason for prioritizing planets located around these bright stars. They will be easiest for astronomers to study again with the even higher-powered telescopes they'll need to start understanding what the planets look like—and, for example, whether they might be attractive to life.

Those planets will be quite close to their star, since TESS will need to spot them orbit multiple times in a given 27-day-long survey of a specific sky segment. According to the predictions mission scientists have made for the telescope, it should be able to find about 20,000 exoplanets, of which dozens should be about the size of Earth. "It's a huge crop of planets," Ricker said.

TESS will hitch a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket and should begin observations about two months after its arrival in space. The survey is scheduled to last two years, although the telescope will be able to stay in its orbit for decades so NASA could easily extend its mission.

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