Nasa to launch hunt for 20000 exoplanets

By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNASA will carefully use the new TESS satellite to keep an eye on 200,000 of the closest stars in the galaxy.

A new NASA satellite created to detect more Earth-like worlds around stars beyond our solar system is due for launch aboard a SpaceX rocket from Florida on Monday, on a quest to expand the known inventory of so-called exoplanets that might harbour life.

"Right now, everything is go for a launch on Monday", said Stephen Rinehart, the Tess project scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

"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".

With NASA's Kepler probe low on fuel and soon to drop out of space, TESS, short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, will soon take on the roll of primary planet-hunter.

While the Kepler mission was considered a major success, NASA noted that most of the planets it recorded are those that orbit faint, faraway stars, making it hard to conduct follow-up observations.

NASA estimates that TESS could find thousands of these candidate planets.

Not only will it be capable of hunting down any old exoplanets, TESS has the important role of looking for rocky planets that orbit relatively close to their Sun, similar to Earth. There are far more planets in the Milky Way than there are stars. Once this is accomplished, deeper investigation can begin.

Scientists will be able to analyze data from TESS and study new information from nearly 85 percent of the sky. And mass divided by size equals density, so astronomers can determine whether they're looking at a puffy ball of gas or a solid chunk of rock. The satellite is instead meant to create a catalogue of nearby planets that future telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, can then inspect more closely.

Tess will aim for a unique elongated orbit that passes within 45,000 miles of Earth on one end and as far away as the orbit of the moon on the other end. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, April 18, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "Now, we're doing it". Unfortunately, we can't really see them, we just know they are there.

"After water, oxygen would be fantastic". If his ballon-stunt works (it's probably not a real party balloon, but since it's Musk we're talking about here, who knows), SpaceX would have become capable of recovering almost the entire assembly.

"Much of the methane in our atmosphere is the product of biology".

  • Zachary Reyes