Technology Now That TESS Is in Orbit, Here’s What Comes Next for NASA’s Exoplanet Hunter

22:31  22 april  2018
22:31  22 april  2018 Source:   seeker.com

NASA’s Newest Satellite Will Scan the Universe for Undiscovered Exoplanets

  NASA’s Newest Satellite Will Scan the Universe for Undiscovered Exoplanets The space agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is scheduled for launch next week and is expected to add significantly to the number of known exoplanets. NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will zero in on 200,000 stars, which could potentially yield hundreds of new exoplanet discoveries. TESS will target areas of the sky where new planets will likely be easier to spot than those studied by the venerable Kepler Space Telescope, giving observatories on the ground a better chance of confirming the discovery of new exoplanets.

— NASA ' s newest planet- hunting powerhouse, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), leaped into orbit April 18 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. NASA ' s Next Planet Hunter Will Launch a 'New Era of Exoplanet Research'.

[ NASA ’ s TESS Exoplanet - Hunting Mission in Pictures]. What’ s more, “first light” will come soon: TESS ’ s science instrument, which comprises of four CCD cameras, will be exchanged on around eight days after dispatch, mission colleagues have said.

  Now That TESS Is in Orbit, Here’s What Comes Next for NASA’s Exoplanet Hunter © Orbital ATK

Nasa’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral last week. Now the work begins.CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's newest planet-hunting powerhouse, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), leaped into orbit April 18 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

TESS lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here at 6:51pm EDT (2251 GMT), then separated from its rocket ride 49 minutes later.

"When you come off the top of the rocket, all the fun for us spacecraft folks begins," Robert Lockwood, TESS spacecraft program manager for Orbital ATK, the company that built the satellite for NASA, said during a prelaunch news conference here on April 15. [NASA's TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Mission in Pictures]

NASA, SpaceX to launch spacecraft to find another Earth

  NASA, SpaceX to launch spacecraft to find another Earth We speak to scientists behind a new mission to find nearby exoplanets that could host life.TESS, a new NASA planet-hunting spacecraft, is set to write the next revolutionary chapter in astronomy by revealing more details about the nearest exoplanets and, perhaps, uncovering the first signs of life seen beyond our spinning rock.

— NASA ' s newest planet- hunting powerhouse, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), leaped into orbit Wednesday evening (April 18) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. [ NASA ' s TESS Exoplanet - Hunting Mission in Pictures].

Next week, NASA is launching its new exoplanet hunter : a satellite that will stare out at the cosmos searching for never-before-seen worlds. And one type of planet in particular is on TESS ’ s wish list: rocky, Earth-sized worlds that are in the right orbit around their stars, where liquid water can pool.

What sort of fun will Lockwood and his colleagues be having? Well, TESS's solar arrays will soon deploy, and the refrigerator-size satellite will perform a series of system checks over the next five days to ensure everything is in working order. And "first light" will come soon: TESS's science instrument, which consists of four CCD cameras, will be switched on about eight days after launch, mission team members have said.

And then there's all the maneuvering. TESS is headed for an orbit around Earth that no spacecraft has ever occupied — a highly elliptical path in which the satellite will circle the planet twice for every orbit the moon completes.

This orbit is very stable, letting the spacecraft remain relatively unaffected by orbital debris and space radiation, as well as allowing for easy communications with mission team members on the ground during the close passes to Earth.

NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds

  NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds NASA is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.Its main goal over the next two years is to scan more than 200,000 of the brightest stars for signs of planets circling them and causing a dip in brightness known as a transit.

NASA ’ s TESS spacecraft will spend two years searching the sky for nearby alien worlds.Published The search for alien worlds, and perhaps alien life, will take another step outward on Wednesday when TESS , the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is launched into orbit around the Earth.

TESS will have a brand-new orbit , visualized here . Credit: NASA . With just a 30-second window, NASA launched its next exoplanet -searching satellite today (April 18) toward a never-before-used orbit that was discovered in the 1990 s .

Moreover, TESS shouldn't have to perform too many attitude corrections in this orbit, mission team members have said. If the spacecraft veers off course too much, the moon's gravity will pull it back in line.

However, this type of orbit presents challenges as well. For example, the timing has to be just right to sync up with the moon. If all goes according to plan, TESS will perform a beautifully choreographed orbital ballet of sorts, completing a series of maneuvers in order to fly by the moon on May 17. (TESS's cameras won't be on during this flyby, so don't expect any photos.) Approximately two months after launch, in mid-June, the spacecraft will finally reach its operating orbit.

Then, TESS's science work will begin. The satellite may be small, but it packs a major science punch. TESS is following in the footsteps of NASA's famed Kepler space telescope and is expected to surpass its predecessor in the number of exoplanets detected.

The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System

  The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System <p>An unusual discovery in the 1990s paved the way for space telescopes to spot thousands of exoplanets.</p>The discovery of 51 Pegasi b, as it was called, was just the beginning. The astronomy community was witnessing “A Parade of New Planets,” declared a headline in Scientific American in 1996. In the months since the exoplanet discovery had been announced, the publication reported, astronomers had reported finding at least four more planets.

More than 500,000 stars will come under its gaze during its two-year lifespan. NASA Astrophysics director Paul Hertz has said TESS will up the ante for planet research once it reaches orbit . A final picture of @ NASA _ TESS , @ NASA ' s next # exoplanet hunting mission, before it was enclosed

Artist' s illustration of NASA ' s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), which will hunt for exoplanets orbiting the brightest stars just outside our solar system.

RELATED: Here Are the Necessary Ingredients for a Life-Supporting Exoplanet

Over the course of its two-year mission, TESS will monitor the brightness of more than 200,000 stars, waiting to observe tiny dips in starlight known as transits. When a planet orbits in front of its host star, it temporarily blocks a tiny portion of starlight, and these dips will be recorded by TESS's four ultrasensitive cameras. Kepler has used this same strategy to find more than 2,600 confirmed alien worlds to date.

Some of the first images TESS's cameras collect may resemble television static rather than discernable cosmic objects, but the photos will be jam-packed with data. The mission will rely on observations by other telescopes, both on the ground and in space, to confirm which of its detected "candidates" are bona fide planets. In addition, some confirmed TESS planets should be close enough to Earth to be studied in detail by other instruments, including NASA's $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2020.

TESS will observe 85 percent of the sky over its two-year prime mission and is expected to discover thousands of new worlds, as well as other astronomical objects like galaxies. We could see the first of those worlds later this year, NASA officials have said.

Originally published on Space.com.

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