NASA's New Exoplanet Telescope Could Help Us Find Another Earth

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NASA's New Exoplanet Telescope Could Help Us Find Another Earth

The telescope was due to go up from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 18:32 local time on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA is on the brink of sending a satellite into space that it believes will discover thousands of new planets within the next few years.

The most common categories of exoplanets are Earth- and Super Earth-sized masses-the latter of which are larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus and Neptune.

TESS (the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is created to explore planets that occupy space beyond our solar system in a hunt for exoplanets.

TESS will survey far more cosmic terrain than its predecessor, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009, taking in some 85 percent of the skies. Coverage study space will be 200 thousand bright stars.

NASA estimates that its exoplanet-seeking satellite will track down around 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, Phys.org reports.

Unlike Kepler, which peered deep into a narrow stretch of sky to find faraway planets around stars like the sun, TESS's survey will be "wide and shallow", Ricker explained.

The job is so specific that TESS will have scoured the entire sky for candidate planets in just two years.

NASA's new planet-hunting satellite will "discover new potential planets orbiting bright host stars relatively close to Earth", said the company, which is controlled by billionaire USA tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. Powerful cameras on the satellite will "stare" at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars. Such planets would be candidates for harboring life. It really has a chance to find a rocky planet that's the right distance from its star, the right temperature to have life on its surface. The data will be transmitted to Earth, where follow-up observations will be conducted to confirm the existence of true exoplanets and not false positives. This will reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something even more unusual. These ground-based telescopes will collaborate with other ground-based telescopes to measure the masses of the planets. TESS will use its own propulsion system, and a lunar flyby maneuver May 16, to steer into an observing orbit in resonance with the moon.

"Think of it as a phone book; you'll be able to look up the ones that interest you", said Sara Seager from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which leads the Tess project.

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