NASA's TESS begins hunt for planets in other solar systems


The TESS Science Team will begin searching the data for new planets immediately after the first series arrives.

The planet hunter is expected to give astronomers more than a thousand new exoplanets to explore and endless of possibilities in further studies beyond the solar system. NASA expects TESS will find thousands of exoplanets during the course of its mission, with a particular focus on those around relatively nearby stars. Transits can provide information on when a planet might be passing in front of its star. It will cover the southern sky in its first year, and then begin scanning the north. For the next two years, TESS will be monitoring numerous nearest and brightest of the stars and analyzing their periodic dips of light.

"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds", Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters, Washington, said in a statement.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched TESS in April into an orbit between Earth and the moon, which is the never-ending route to look for exoplanets.

"Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", Paul added.

The TESS telescope equipped with four telescopes with matrices a resolution of 16.8 megapixels, which operate in the spectral range from 600 to 1000 nanometers. The Kepler space telescope discovered over 2,000 confirmed exoplanets since its launch in 2009. Because of the overlapping of TESS's observation sectors, the spacecraft will have an area near the pole under constant observation.

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TESS is scheduled to transmit the first set of data it collected in August 2018. The satellite would examine and search more than 90% of the sky and it is expected to send back its observations to the ground after every 13.5 days.

The TESS NASA mission is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is being managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

By measuring how much the brightness dips and at what intervals, scientists can estimate the size of the planets and attempt to explain how close they are to their star. "TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions".

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