SpaceX delays launch of NASA's exoplanet-hunting satellite

18 April, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • SpaceX to launch NASA spacecraft to look for alien planets

"TESS will discover new potential planets orbiting bright host stars relatively close to Earth", SpaceX said in a press release.

The Tess Satellite could mean leaps and bounds for space exploration.

Astronomers in the future, including those working with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, are then expected to be able to study the atmospheres of numerous planets.

The stars TESS will study are 30 to 100 times brighter than those the Kepler mission and K2 follow-up surveyed, which will enable far easier follow-up observations with both ground-based and space-based telescopes.

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NASA's Dr Martin Still also said in a blog: "We expect to find a whole range of planet sizes between planets the size of Mercury or even the moon, our moon, to planets the same size as Jupiter and everything in between".

TESS has a wider field of view than Kepler.

JOB: Tess will scan nearly the entire sky during its $337 million mission, staring at hundreds of thousands, even millions of small, faint red dwarf stars. This telescope should be ready for launch by the year's end. "Our goal will be to very accurately measure the size of planets that have already been identified". He is interested in the variations in brightness of the stars that will be observed by Tess.

This variability is a effect of resonances in the outer layers of the stars, and it allows the British professor to pull out a lot of extra information. "So, in essence we can do the equivalent of an ultrasound scan on them".

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SpaceX will feel vindicated following a recent investigation finding it devoid of blame in the loss of the secret Zuma satellite in January, but NASA scientists will still be feeling slightly anxious with the launch of TESS. The satellite will fly with the Falcon for 44 minutes before being ejected on to a highly elliptical path around Earth.

TESS will look for dips in the visible light of stars for detecting exoplanets as they cross in front of stars along our line of sight to them.

"We're trying to summarize all of these lessons learned into a booster that then is able to fly and be recovered and fly again multiple times without a lot of refurbishment", said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX.

The TESS satellite aims to take on board what has been achieved by the exoplanet-hunting spacecraft Kepler and improve it exponentially by directly searching for alien worlds in greater detail. Kepler has found more than 2,300 confirmed exoplanets over its lifetime. Every time he approaches Earth, he will send scientists the information he has collected in the meantime. "That will be a lasting legacy of Tess".

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