NASA launches telescope to search for extraterrestrial life

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But it was not until the Kepler Space Telescope was launched in 2009 that the exoplanet population exploded.

George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: 'TESS is equipped with four very sensitive cameras that will be able to monitor almost the entire sky.

The new satellite is only the first step in finding exoplanets with an atmosphere capable of sustaining life.

Shortly before NASA's social media announcement, the SpaceX launch team tweeted that they were standing down and that the TESS launch had been put off until tomorrow. That is about 20 times what the Kepler mission was able to detect'. The reason is that the majority of stars out there are what are termed M-dwarfs, and these are smaller and cooler than our Sun, and therefore the zone of ambient temperature that would keep water in a liquid state is much closer in.

This will ensure that TESS reaches apogee with the moon at a phasing of 90 degrees, allowing its orbit to remain stable for at least 10 years. Of these, officials anticipate, 300 will be Earth-size exoplanets or double-Earth-size Super Earths. TESS, which is the successor to the wildly effective Kepler Space Telescope, will help researchers spot thousands of new exoplanet candidates, including hundreds of Earth-like planets located around bright stars in our solar neighborhood.

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"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.

"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars", Hertz said. During the two years of its planned operation, it will survey the entire sky-not just a mere postage stamp-sized portion of it-and it will be selective in the stars it studies.

Hubble itself will also be replaced by the JWST (the James Webb Space Telescope) and will have 6.5-meter-wide mirror, capable of collecting more light than Hubble ever could. If we know their radii and we know their mass, then we can talk about their density and what their likely composition is.

These are known as exoplanets and scientists are keen to learn more about them. "We're on this scenic tour of the whole sky, and in some ways we have no idea what we will see". And if any issues arise, there will be other launch opportunities throughout the month, but not every day. Yet red dwarfs are actually the galactic norm, making up about 70 percent of all stars, says Philip Muirhead, assistant professor of astronomy at Boston University.

"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".