Updates‎ > ‎

2018-03-28. NASA’s new satellite brings the search for Earthlike exoplanets closer to home.

posted Apr 3, 2018, 10:13 PM by Alan Gould
By Daniel CleryMar, Science. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. Excerpt: Thanks to NASA's pioneering Kepler probe, we know our galaxy is teeming with exoplanets ...more than 2600 confirmed exoplanets, implying hundreds of billions in the Milky Way. The new efforts ..target Earth-size planets whose composition, atmosphere, and climate—factors in whether they might be hospitable to life—could be studied. Leading the charge is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA mission due for launch on 16 April. The brainchild of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, the $337 million TESS project aims to identify at least 50 rocky exoplanets—Earth-size or bigger—close enough for their atmospheres to be scrutinized by the much larger James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), due for launch in 2020. ...Like Kepler, TESS finds planets by staring at stars and looking for a dip in brightness as a planet passes in front, blocking some of the star's light in a so-called transit. But whereas Kepler kept a fixed view, watching just 0.25% of the sky out to a distance of 3000 lightyears, TESS will maneuver to observe 85% of it, out to about 300 light-years. The spacecraft carries four telescopes that together will survey a strip of sky extending from the solar system's pole to its equator, known as the ecliptic. The scopes will watch a strip for 27 days, then shift sideways and repeat the process. After observing 13 such strips over a year, covering almost an entire hemisphere of sky, TESS will flip over and survey the other hemisphere.... http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/nasa-s-new-satellite-brings-search-earthlike-exoplanets-closer-home