Tech & Science NASA's TESS spacecraft may find 1,600 new planets in the next two years

18:56  14 april  2018
18:56  14 april  2018 Source:   Engadget

NASA Is Launching Its Next Planet-Hunting Telescope

  NASA Is Launching Its Next Planet-Hunting Telescope 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.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ) will pick up where the Kepler telescope left off, finding thousands of planets that orbit other stars. The mission will map 85 percent of the sky over the next two years .

TESS is NASA ’ s next planet finder mission that: 1 . …will find new planets for us to study over the next two decades. The TESS mission will showcase the diversity of planets in the galaxy, and is expected to find planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to giant planets .

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On Monday evening (Tuesday AEST), NASA plans to launch a brand new satellite into orbit, courtesy of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Called TESS (the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), the spacecraft is designed to detect planets outside our solar system (called exoplanets) that are relatively close to our solar neighbourhood.

We have a spacecraft that's currently in orbit of the Sun that has a similar job. It's called Kepler, and in the nine years it's been in space, this little satellite has found 2,342 confirmed exoplanets, with 2,245 more candidates that still need to be studied.

NASA Is Launching Its Next Planet-Hunting Telescope

  NASA Is Launching Its Next Planet-Hunting Telescope 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.

TESS is the next logical step either way. Kepler Finds 1235 Planets in Four Months: William Borucki Q&A. NASA ' s Kepler Spacecraft Discovers Two New Exoplanets.

Every star you see—plus hundreds of thousands, even millions more—will come under the intense stare of NASA ' s newest planet hunter. Set to lift off early next week, the Tess spacecraft will prowl for planets around the closest, brightest stars.

Thirty of these are confirmed to be within the "habitable zone" of their host star, which is close enough for liquid water to exist on the surface but not so close that the planet is scorched by the star's heat. (It's also called the "Goldilocks" zone, though presumably, there are no bears to be found on these distant worlds).

Kepler's original mission, which was designed to last three and a half years, was to point itself at a single group of stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region. As a result, it constantly monitored the brightness of around 150,000 main-sequence stars using an onboard photometer. By looking at a tiny part of a very big sky, Kepler was able to monitor when the brightness of these stars dimmed even the slightest bit, which signalled that something (like a planet) might be moving in front of it. (This is called transiting). Scientists then analysed the data that Kepler sent home and were able to confirm its exoplanet discoveries.

Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space

  Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space If one planet gets thrown out, others in the neighborhood might go down with it, the study suggested.David Fleming, a student from University of Washington and the lead author of the study, posited the theory after taking a close look at short-term eclipsing binaries, or the system in which the orbital path of stars is so close to the line of sight, one star appears to cross the other’s path for a short while.

Credit: NASA ' s Goddard Space Flight Center. As the search for life on distant planets heats up, NASA ' s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Scientists expect TESS to observe at least 200,000 stars during the two years of its spaceflight mission, resulting in the discovery of thousands of new exoplanets.

TESS will find planets of nearly the size of Earth around stars all over the sky, including around bright stars. New linguistic analysis finds Dravidian language family is approximately 4,500 years old. NASA ' s Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two -thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the

a tower lit up at night © NASA/KSC Thanks to Kepler, we know that exoplanets are incredibly common in our galaxy -- scientists have discovered that there are actually 1.6 planets for every star in the Milky Way. Before Kepler, we didn't know much about these planets at all.

But, armed with the knowledge that Kepler has given us, it's time for a new planet-hunting spacecraft that can apply what we've learned and expand it to new discoveries. And none too soon: Kepler is low on fuel and will become just another piece of space junk soon. It's time for TESS to take on the fight. (And if the idea of a hard-working spacecraft slowly dying out in the cold vastness of space, struggling to reorient itself towards Earth one last time to send back word of its discoveries makes you weepy, know that you aren't the only one.)

TESS will operate differently than Kepler did. We don't need to know whether there are exoplanets out there anymore. Now, we want to know more about the distant worlds we do find. That's hard with Kepler's data because so many of its discoveries are far away -- too far to really glean most details about these planets. That's where TESS comes in.

TESS, NASA's new planet hunter, will search for alien worlds around our nearest stars

  TESS, NASA's new planet hunter, will search for alien worlds around our nearest stars NASA is set to launch a new planet-hunting telescope that promises to send the number of alien planets we know through the roof — and make it easier to search for hints of life.That all changed with the launch of the Kepler space telescope in 2009.

[See how NASA ' s planet -hunting Kepler spacecraft works in this Space .com infographic]. But Kepler is still observing the heavens. In May 2014, NASA approved a new two - year ( NASA ' s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS , scheduled to launch in 2017, should also find a

NASA ' s next exoplanet-hunting space telescope has arrived in Florida, two months ahead of its planned launch. TESS team members have said they expect to find several thousand planets during the spacecraft 's mission.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry TESS into space, launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The brief launch window opens at 6:32 PM. Unlike Kepler, TESS will actually be in an elongated orbit of the Earth, with an orbital period of 13.7 days. After launch, the closest it will ever come to Earth is 67,000 miles, which will keep it outside the hazards of the Van Allen radiation belts. During its two-year mission (which will probably be extended if the spacecraft works properly), TESS will study over 200,000 stars.

a large white building © NASA/KSC As previously mentioned, Kepler worked by examining and measuring the brightness of the stars it was focused on. TESS will do the same, searching for dimming brightness when a planet transits its host star. But there's a lot more than scientists can tell from a transit than just whether an exoplanet exists. They can tell the size of the planet; when planets orbit their host stars, their gravity actually acts on the star. When that happens, the star "wobbles," and the bigger the planet, the larger the wobble. Gas giants will cause a much more significant wobble than a small, rocky planet like the Earth.

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.

NASA ’ s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ) sits in a clean room at Kennedy Space Center. Another 4,496 candidate planets are pending, but many may never be confirmed because their stellar They selected about 200,000 stars for study during TESS ’s two - year primary mission.

See how scientists find alien planets in our full infographic here. The next 20 years should bring more big leaps in exoplanet science. For example, NASA is set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ) in 2017 and the .8 billion James Webb Space Telescope the next year .

Rather than honing in on a small section of the sky, TESS's field of view will be 400 times greater than what Kepler's was. But even more crucially, TESS will focus on stars that are close to us. This matters for multiple reasons: It will allow for faster readings and confirmations, but more than that, it will let us glean much, much more data about the specifics of the planets we've detected.

This is where the stars' distances become crucial. Many of Kepler's discoveries were around faraway stars that are relatively dim as viewed from Earth. As a result, there was limited data to work with. But because TESS is looking at closer, brighter stars, scientists will be able to follow up on the satellite's discoveries with ground-based telescopes and learn more and more about these new worlds we're discovering.

The hope for TESS is that it will help scientists discover relatively close rocky worlds within the "Goldilocks" zone, or habitable zone, of their host stars. While TESS itself can't determine whether a planet has an atmosphere, or what it might be composed of, scientists can follow up on the planets the spacecraft will detect. But with the prediction that TESS will discover in the neighbourhood of 1,600 exoplanets during its initial mission, the real challenge is how scientists will choose which planets to follow up on. It's a daunting task, but you can be sure that the space and science community is eager to find out what TESS has to show us about our solar neighbourhood


SpaceX blasts off NASA's new planet-hunter, TESS .
NASA on Wednesday blasted off its newest planet-hunting spacecraft, TESS, a $337 million satellite that aims to scan 85 percent of the skies for cosmic bodies where life may exist. "Three, two, one and liftoff!" said a NASA commentator as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) soared into the blue sky atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:51 pm (2251 GMT).The washing machine-sized spacecraft is built to search outside the solar system, scanning the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

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