NASA takes a step forward in Exoplanet hunting

Today NASA is about to take a leap forward in search for other earth like planets. This will be achieved by their satellite named TESS ( Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite ) launching today i.e. Monday April 2018.

The satellite will launch on a SpaceX rocket in Florida, carrying with it the hopes of scientists looking to find yet more exoplanets and with it the potential for discovering life.

source: ww.nasa.gov

How does it compare to Kepler ?

“Kepler was all about doing a census: How common are planets in general? What is the size distribution of planets like? Are Earth-sized planets common?” Stephen Rinehart, the project scientist for TESS at NASA, tells. “TESS is really optimized for knocking on doors in the neighbourhood and saying, ‘Hi, how are you? What is this planet actually like?’

The types of planets on it’s radar are: rocky, Earth-sized worlds that are in the right orbit around their stars, where liquid water can pool. If such a planet was also found to have an atmosphere similar to Earth’s, it would open up the possibility that life could survive on that world, too.

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After Kepler validated the search for exoplanets by finding thousands of them through careful measurements of periodically dimming stars, astronomers have confidence that TESS and its four cameras will be able to monitor the brightness of more than 200,000 stars during a two-year mission and find thousands of exoplanets. Of these, astronomers estimate that the telescope should find about 500 Earth-sized, and “Super Earth” planets, a fair number of which should be within the habitable zones of their parent stars.

Launch details:

The spacecraft is scheduled to launch on Monday, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:32pm ET (22:32 UTC). This will be SpaceX’s eighth launch of 2018 and one of its last—and perhaps its very last—flights of a new Block 4 Falcon 9 booster.

The rocket will attempt a landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after launch. It has the fuel to make a “land-based” landing, but during a briefing Sunday, SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann said droneship landings are “softer” on the booster. If all goes well, SpaceX hopes to rapidly turn this Falcon 9 first stage around and fly it again on a supply mission to the International Space Station in July.

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