NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft begins stellar search

NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft begins stellar search

NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft begins stellar search

The TESS Science Team will start crawling the data immediately after its arrival, said NASA.

TESS or Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is the most extensive mission of its kind that aims to discover thousands of exoplanets around nearby bright stars. Using this method TESS might find thousands of new planets that we don't know of, some of which are predicted to support life. These dips are created when a planet passes in front of a star. 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. For the next two years, TESS will be monitoring numerous nearest and brightest of the stars and analyzing their periodic dips of light.

"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds".

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Way back in April, NASA finally managed to launch TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground. In this process, the spacecraft will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars to search for transiting exoplanets.

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.

"With possibly more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", said Hertz.

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TESS will be looking at each observation sector for at least a period of 27 days, and then it will rotate on to the next sector.

For updates on the progress of the mission, there is an official NASA TESS Twitter account, as well as an official website that the space agency has maintained since the development and construction stages of the telescope.

Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

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By measuring how much the brightness dips and at what intervals, scientists can estimate the size of the planets and attempt to explain how close they are to their star.

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