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NASA's New Planet Hunter Begins Its Search for Alien Worlds

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NASA's New Planet Hunter Begins Its Search for Alien Worlds

An artist’s depiction of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite tv for pc (TESS) at work (not proven to scale).

Credit score: NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart


NASA’s latest planet-hunting telescope is formally at work.


The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which is designed to hunt for alien worlds round stars not too removed from the solar, started gathering science knowledge Wednesday (July 25), members of the instrument group introduced yesterday (July 27).


TESS will ship that preliminary knowledge to Earth in August, with new observations arriving each 13.5 days after that, mission group members stated in a statement.


“I am thrilled that our planet hunter is able to begin combing the yard of our photo voltaic system for brand new worlds,” Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics division, stated within the assertion. “With probably extra planets than stars in our universe, I sit up for the unusual, incredible worlds we’re sure to find.”


TESS launched on April 18 into orbit round Earth after which underwent a interval of testing to make sure the instrument was prepared to make use of. It despatched its first photograph, a check picture, all the way down to its handlers in Could. That picture confirmed 200,000 particular person stars, a lot of which could possibly be accompanied by not less than one planet.


TESS follows within the footsteps of NASA’s iconic Kepler telescope, which in the middle of two missions has recognized 2,650 confirmed exoplanets, in line with the area company. Like Kepler, TESS will search for tiny dips within the brightness of particular person stars attributable to a planet passing between its star and the telescope in its orbit.


However whereas Kepler was restricted to poring over a small patch of sky throughout its major mission, TESS will research nearly all the sky in its two deliberate years of observations. Throughout that survey, it’ll concentrate on the 200,000 brightest stars within the sky — which suggests the undertaking ought to establish planets round lots of the stars that skywatchers know and love.


The group that designed TESS has calculated that the instrument ought to spot about 1,600 new exoplanets, together with some the scale of Earth.


Some planets TESS spots will seemingly turn into targets for follow-up research by NASA’s much-delayed James Webb Area Telescope, which is able to be capable to research the atmospheres of these planets and start characterizing them in additional element than TESS can handle.


Electronic mail Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or observe her @meghanbartels. Comply with us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Authentic article on Space.com.




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