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Exoplanet-Hunting Telescope TESS launch by NASA

Published on April 17, 2018
NASA is all set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on 18th April 2018. It was earlier scheduled to be launched on 16th April.
  • It was launched with the help of the launch vehicle SpaceX Falcon 9.
  • Over the course of its two-year prime mission, it is expected to discover thousands of worlds.

Key features

  • TESS is designed to hunt for alien planets circling stars relatively close to the sun. 
  • It will identify exoplanets orbiting the brightest stars just outside the solar system.
  • TESS will follow in the footsteps of NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope, which has discovered 2,650 alien worlds to date — about 70 percent of all known exoplanets. 
  • Sixty days after TESS establishes an orbit around Earth, after instrument tests, the two-year mission will officially begin.
  • TESS will orbit Earth (on a looping, 13.7-day path), whereas Kepler circles the sun.
  • Like Kepler, TESS will use the "transit method" to find exoplanets, noticing the tiny dips in brightness when these worlds cross their parent stars' faces from the telescope's perspective.
  • Soon, Kepler's mission will end, and it will be abandoned in space, orbiting the sun and never getting any closer to Earth than the moon.
  • TESS will survey an area 400 times larger than what Kepler observed. This includes 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars. 
  • TESS will begin by looking at the Southern Hemisphere sky for the first year and move to the Northern Hemisphere in the second year. 
  • At the top of TESS there are the cameras beneath a cone that will protect them from radiation.
  • The cameras can detect light across a broad range of wavelengths, up to infrared. This means TESS will be able to look at many nearby small, cool red dwarf stars and see whether there are exoplanets around them.

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