Technology NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds

11:00  16 april  2018
11:00  16 april  2018 Source:   AFP

Now That TESS Is in Orbit, Here’s What Comes Next for NASA’s Exoplanet Hunter

  Now That TESS Is in Orbit, Here’s What Comes Next for NASA’s Exoplanet Hunter Nasa’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral last week. Now the work begins. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's newest planet-hunting powerhouse, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), leaped into orbit April 18 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.TESS lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here at 6:51pm EDT (2251 GMT), then separated from its rocket ride 49 minutes later.

NASA ? s new planet - hunting Kepler telescope launched into space late Friday, lighting up the night sky above Florida as it began an ambitious mission to seek out Earth - like planets around alien stars.

NASA has discovered an earth - like planet orbiting around a star, what a NASA researcher called a "bigger, older cousin to Earth." Top of the World . Workarounds. Time Cover Store.

This NASA handout artist's rendition shows the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA Explorer mission launching in 2018 to study exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars outside our solar system © Provided by AFP This NASA handout artist's rendition shows the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA Explorer mission launching in 2018 to study exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars outside our solar system 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.

NASA Tess spacecraft to prowl for planets as galactic scout

  NASA Tess spacecraft to prowl for planets as galactic scout Look up at the sky tonight. Every star you see, plus hundreds of thousands, even millions more, will come under the intense stare of NASA's newest planet hunter. Look up at the sky tonight. Every star you see, plus hundreds of thousands, even millions more, will come under the intense stare of NASA's newest planet hunter.

NASA mission to reap bonanza of earth -sized planets . Arizona State University' s School of Earth and Space Exploration recently released new research on its flagship Smart Course, Habitable Worlds , published in the peer-reviewed journal, Astrobiology.

NASA just discovered a new Earth - like alien planet called Kepler 452b. NASA announced on Thursday that the agency' s planet - hunting Keppler Space Telescope has found a new planet that is potentially more Earth - like than any other world previously discovered.

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 predicts that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets -- or planets outside the solar system -- including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth.

"They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars," Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, told reporters on Sunday.

"We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye," she added.

"So in the next few years we might even be able to walk outside and point at a star and know that it has a planet. This is the future."

SpaceX rocket launched from Florida carrying NASA planet-hunting telescope

  SpaceX rocket launched from Florida carrying NASA planet-hunting telescope <p>A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Wednesday on SpaceX's first high-priority science mission for NASA, a planet-hunting space telescope whose launch was delayed for two days by a rocket-guidance glitch.</p>The Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, lifted off on schedule from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:51 p.m. EDT, starting the clock on a two-year quest to detect more worlds circling stars beyond our solar system that might harbor life.

Planet - hunting mission confirms eight new worlds , including some of the most Earthlike yet. SEATTLE— NASA ' s venerable planet - hunter , the Kepler spacecraft, has shaken its (Learn more about habitable-zone planets in "Kepler Telescope Discovers Most Earth - Like Planet Yet.")

Researchers at NASA ' s Kepler project have discovered three potentially Earth - like worlds . NASA ' s Kepler mission, which seeks out planets outside of our solar system, has just discovered five new planets around two stars - and three of them have the potential to be habitable.

 Follow-on to Kepler 

TESS is designed as a follow-on to the US space agency's Kepler spacecraft, which was the first of its kind and launched in 2009. Now, the aging spacecraft is low on fuel and near the end of its life.

Kepler found a massive trove of exoplanets by focusing on one patch of sky, which contained about 150,000 stars like the Sun.

The Kepler mission found 2,300 confirmed exoplanets and nearly 4,500 candidates. But many were too distant and dim to study further.

TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone.

"By looking at such a large section of the sky –- this kind of stellar real estate -- we open up the ability to cherry-pick the best stars to do follow up science," said Jenn Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

"On average the stars that TESS finds observes be 30-100 times brighter and 10 times closer than the stars that Kepler focused on."

Gravity Could Trap Alien Civilizations on Super-Earths

  Gravity Could Trap Alien Civilizations on Super-Earths Stronger gravity requires stronger—and pricier—rockets to overcome. "On more massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive," author Michael Hippke, an independent researcher based in Germany, told Space.com. "Such civilizations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission or a Hubble Space Telescope." Humans have been spacefaring beings for less than a century, and there's a good reason for that: rockets are a challenging technology.

Nasa ' s planet - hunting telescope, Kepler, has rocketed into space on a historic voyage to track down other Earths in a faraway patch of the Milky Way. It is the first mission capable of answering the age-old question: Are other worlds like ours out there?

Image: NASA . TESS will continue the galactic hunt job left by Kepler and monitor the brightnesses of more than 200,000 stars in its two-year mission. This knowledge will help in finding Earth -sized planets that can sustain human life and perhaps confirm the existence of aliens too.

Since TESS uses the same method as Kepler for finding potential planets, by tracking the dimming of light when a celestial body passes in front of a star, the next step is for ground-based and space telescopes to peer closer.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere.

"TESS forms a bridge from what we have learned about exoplanets to date and where we are headed in the future," said Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS should be a stepping stone to future breakthroughs, he said.

"With the hope that someday, in the next decades, we will be able to identify the potential for life to exist outside the solar system."

Weather was expected to be 80 percent favorable for launch.

The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System .
<p>An unusual discovery in the 1990s paved the way for space telescopes to spot thousands of exoplanets.</p>The discovery of 51 Pegasi b, as it was called, was just the beginning. The astronomy community was witnessing “A Parade of New Planets,” declared a headline in Scientific American in 1996. In the months since the exoplanet discovery had been announced, the publication reported, astronomers had reported finding at least four more planets.

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