NASA's TESS Spacecraft Begins Hunting Exoplanets

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NASA's TESS Spacecraft Begins Hunting Exoplanets

TESS, which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft and it has begun its science operations to search for exoplanets - planets outside our solar system - on July 25th. Once the first dataset has been received, TESS scientists will begin combing through the information to identify any signs of new planets.

"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds", Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters, Washington, said in a statement. "Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover".

TESS is the latest weapon in NASA's arsenal that is built specifically to search for planets outside of our own Solar System, and it's an incredibly powerful device.

For the next two years, the satellite will be tracking the nearest, brightest stars and keeping a lookout for transits, which are periodic dips in the star's light. These dips are created when a planet passes in front of a star.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

To recall, TESS was launched on April 18, 2018, aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and is aimed at finding thousands of exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars. During these two years, the spacecraft will survey the entire sky by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across.

The TESS telescope equipped with four telescopes with matrices a resolution of 16.8 megapixels, which operate in the spectral range from 600 to 1000 nanometers.

During the next couple of years, scientists believe that TESS should be able to easily locate thousands of these exoplanets in transit, with some of them capable of harboring life of some kind.

Because TESS's observation sectors overlap, it will have an area near the pole under constant observation.

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits.

The TESS NASA mission is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is being managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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