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2018-03-26. Meet TESS, Seeker of Alien Worlds.

posted Mar 28, 2018, 9:14 PM by Alan Gould
By Dennis Overbye, The New York Times. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. Excerpt: ...No earlier than 6:32 p.m. on April 16, ...a little spacecraft known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, bristling with cameras and ambition, will ascend on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a blaze of smoke and fire and take up a lengthy residence between the moon and the Earth. There it will spend the next two years, at least, scanning the sky for alien worlds. TESS is the latest effort to try to answer questions that have intrigued humans for millenniums and dominated astronomy for the last three decades: Are we alone? Are there other Earths? Evidence of even a single microbe anywhere else in the galaxy would rock science. ...“Most of the stars with planets are far away,” said Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the TESS team, referring to Kepler’s bounty. “TESS will fill in planets around nearby stars.” ...Most of the exoplanets will be orbiting stars called red dwarfs, much smaller and cooler than the sun. They make up the vast majority of stars in our neighborhood (and in the universe) and presumably lay claim to most of the planets. Like Kepler, TESS will hunt those planets by monitoring the light from stars and detecting slight dips, momentary fading indicating that a planet has passed in front of its star.... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/science/tess-nasa-exoplanets.html