New NASA Planet Hunter Is Launching One Week from Today

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New NASA Planet Hunter Is Launching One Week from Today‘Space.com

New NASA Planet Hunter Is Launching One Week from Today

NASA's next exoplanet-hunting spacecraft will take to the skies one week from today (April 9), if all goes according to plan.

TESS will do this via the "transit" method, noting the tiny brightness dips that result when a planet crosses the face of its host star from the spacecraft's perspective. This is the same strategy employed by NASA's famed Kepler space telescope, which has found about two-thirds of the 3,700 known exoplanets to date. [NASA's TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Mission in Pictures]

But Kepler's finds are mostly faraway worlds at least several hundred light-years from Earth. TESS will aim to find planets close enough to be investigated in depth by other instruments — especially NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the $8.8 billion behemoth scheduled to launch in 2020.

TESS will do its work from a unique vantage point: a highly elliptical orbit that no other spacecraft has ever occupied, mission officials have said. After launch, TESS will gradually expand its orbit until it flies close enough to the moon to receive a gravitational assist, according to a new NASA video

"This slingshot will move it into a stable orbit that is tipped at about 40 degrees from the moon's orbital plane," the video's narrator explains. 

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Quite a lot has been going on:

NASA’s next planet hunter is ready to find undiscovered worlds

Illustration of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star. TESS will identify thousands of potential new planets for further study and observation. (Credits: NASA/GSFC)

The search for extraterrestrial life is about to get serious, as the U.S. space agency announced in a statement this week. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has completed all certifications and is currently undergoing final preparations for an April 16 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Initially slated for a two-year mission, TESS will ascend to an elliptical 13.7-day orbit around the Earth. It’s a unique and extreme orbit that’s never been used before, varying as close as 67,000 miles and as far away as 232,000 miles from its home planet. According to Space.com, the stable orbit will allow TESS to stay in space for decades without any need for course corrections.

Outfitted with four wide-angle cameras, TESS will be able to observe 85 percent of the surrounding sky as it looks for exoplanets. The instruments on the spacecraft will map 26 different ‘sectors’ of the sky over a two-year period.

Specifically, TESS will be looking for a phenomenon called a ‘transit,’ which is when a planet passes in front of its star. The resulting decrease in brightness can be observed and measured with spectroscopy, giving astronomers a better idea of the size and composition of the planet.

Reference

NASA Is About to Launch a New Planet

Just 25 years ago, no one knew for sure whether the stars dotting our night skies had anything circling them that resembled planets, let alone one like Earth.

Then came a NASA planet-seeker called Kepler, which starting in 2009 began finding intriguing, tell-tale blips around stars other than our sun. Almost everywhere its cameras looked, a new blip was discovered, signifying a rich abundance of “exoplanets.” Kepler’s prodigious planet-spotting—more than 1,000 of the 3,700 discovered to date—was among the first astronomical endeavors to show that the basic pattern of our solar system appears to be common elsewhere.

Now, the successor to Kepler is here. This planet-hunter, a 700-pound spacecraft called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is scheduled to launch next month and focus on stars nearer and brighter than those analyzed by Kepler. TESS will operate in a unique elliptical orbit, synchronized with the moon, to aim its four sophisticated cameras at roughly 200,000 stars. The mission is to detect brief decreases in brightness caused by a planet cutting across a star. In this orbit, the TESS spacecraft will remain stable for decades.

This type of pioneering astronomy—the study of planets light years away—is designed to help answer one of humanity’s oldest questions: Are we really alone?

The TESS launch is tentatively scheduled for April 16 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The craft will undergo two months of orbital positioning and instrument tests before its work begins in earnest. The goal is to assemble a map of 85 percent of the sky and to suss out planets that are roughly 1 to 1.5 times the size of Earth. One central question: Does this size matter when gauging their habitability, as it did here?

Reference

Watching: Is Launching One Week, TESS Mission, Earth. TESS

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New NASA Planet Hunter Is Launching One Week from Today
on 09th of Apr 2018 An artist’s illustration of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which is scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018. Credit: Chris Meaney/NASA Goddard NASA’s next exoplanet-hunting spacecraft will take to the skies one week from today (April 9), if

NASA’s next planet hunter is ready to find undiscovered worlds
(Apr 2018) The search for extraterrestrial life is about to get serious, as the U.S. space agency announced in a statement this week. NASA’s Transiting . size and composition of the planet. ‘TESS is opening a door for a whole new kind of study,’ said Stephen

In case you’re also interested:

NASA Is About to Launch a New Planet
(since Mar, 2018) Just 25 years ago, no one knew for sure whether the stars dotting our night skies had anything circling them that resembled planets, let alone one like Earth. Then came a NASA planet-seeker called Kepler, which starting in 2009 began finding intriguing

NASA’s Next Planet Hunter Will Launch a ‘New Era of Exoplanet Research’
(since Mar, 2018) Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star. TESS, which is scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018, is expected to identify thousands of potential new planets for further

Video