NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) begins operations

Mindy Sparks
August 1, 2018

Each hemisphere will take a year to scan, and when all is said and done, TESS will have collected data for 85 percent of the sky.

NASA's TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS Spacecraft) has started its hunt for planets orbiting nearby stars.

"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.

Way back in April, NASA finally managed to launch TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. The first scientific data the device will transmit to Earth in August.

"Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", Paul added. By staring at distant stars for long periods of time, the satellite will spot dips in the brightness of the light beaming off of them, indicating a planet has pass in between the star and TESS's sensitive camera array.

TESS is NASA's latest satellite to search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.


On April 18, TESS was first shot into Earth orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and commissioning checks were taking place up until fairly recently, as NASA noted in an update on June 11, according to Space. The science team is ready to analyse the data and would start looking for new planets as soon as the first series of data is transmitted. Transits can be caused by a planet passing between the star and Earth, which accounts for the temporary flicker in their shine.

The spacecraft is fitted with four powerful cameras each having a 16.8-megapixel sensor which cover a square 24-degrees wide, large enough to contain an entire constellation.

The mission is being led by MIT, though the Goddard Space Flight Center is managing it.

More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission. The Kepler space telescope discovered over 2,000 confirmed exoplanets since its launch in 2009.

TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler's targets. "It will allow us to follow up planet detections using other telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, to then better explore the properties of these planets".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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