Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

SpaceX prepares to launch NASA's TESS exoplanet hunter

Artist concept of TESS in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star Artist concept of TESS in front of a lava planet orbiting its host star. Image credit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Stacy Houston | 19 April, 2018, 06:26

Elon Musk has famously quipped he'd like to die on Mars, but the satellite his company just launched for NASA could put even more distant planets on his radar.

"TESS is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system". In order to improve exoplanet detection capabilities, NASA, with backing from Google, awarded funding to a team from MIT to develop a new planet-hunting satellite.

In an additional statement, NASA noted that TESS is expected to catalog more than 1,500 transiting exoplanets candidates that include some 500 Earth-sized and super-Earth planets. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

Its discoveries will be studied further by ground- and space-based telescopes for signs of habitability, including a rocky terrain, a size similar to Earth and a distance from their sun - neither too close nor too far - that allows the right temperature for liquid water.

The minibus-sized craft is equipped with four wide-field cameras that can see in the near-infrared spectrum, looking for dips in light as planets pass in front of their stars.

Release of Dark Souls Remastered pushed back to Summer 2018 on Switch
The current-gen remaster of the first Dark Souls game is highly anticipated by fans of the third-person action-RPG series. Bandai Namco recently confirmed that the Dark Souls Remastered Network Test will be available on all platforms.

The new spacecraft will focus on nearby exoplanets, within a dozen to 100 light-years away. The Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is created to search the stars for other planets outside our solar system, and it's equipped with new tech in order for it to be able to detect relatively small planets orbiting other suns. It will take Tess two weeks to circle Earth.

Within minutes of the launch, the main-stage booster separated from the upper part of the rocket and flew itself back to Earth for a successful touchdown on an unmanned landing vessel floating in the Atlantic.

Blastoff followed a two-day launch postponement forced by a technical glitch in the rocket's guidance-control system. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, once launched in 2020 or so, will probe these planets' atmospheres for potential traces of life.

This rocket, after being inspected and refurbished, of course, is planned to be reused for the next ISS resupply mission SpaceX is performing, in June.

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