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Now, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) starts its mission. It aims to study and hunt alien worlds around stars not too far from the sun.
TESS will send original data to Earth in August, with new observations arriving every 13.5 days after that, mission team members said in a statement.
“I’m thrilled that our planet hunter is ready to start combing the backyard of our solar system for new worlds,” Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics division, said in the statement. “With possibly more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the strange, fantastic worlds we’re bound to discover.”
On April 18 Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite launched its mission around the Earth, and then sent its first photo, a test image, down to its handlers in May. That image showed 200,000 individual stars, many of which could be accompanied by at least one planet.
According to their website tess.gsfc.nasa.go the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. No ground-based survey can achieve this feat.
The team that designed TESS has calculated that the instrument should spot about 1,600 new exoplanets, including some the size of Earth.
Space.com mentions “TESS follows in the footsteps of NASA’s iconic Kepler telescope, which in the course of two missions has identified 2,650 confirmed exoplanets, according to the space agency. Like Kepler, TESS will look for tiny dips in the brightness of individual stars caused by a planet passing between its star and the telescope in its orbit”.
Source: Space.com, tess.gsfc.nasa.go