Nasa on planet-hunting mission

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Using data from a number of sources, including Vanderbilt's KELT telescope and the star "flicker" analysis method pioneered at Vanderbilt, Stassun and his team have been working since 2012 to narrow down the field from 470 million stars visible to TESS to the 250,000 most likely to host a planet like our own.

"By looking at such a large section of the sky - this kind of stellar real estate - we open up the ability to cherry-pick the best stars to do follow-up science", said Jenn Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

NASA's new project is a quest to expand astronomers' known inventory of so-called exoplanets.

In spite of an aborted attempt Monday, NASA hopes to launch a new satellite soon that will search for planets outside of our solar system that could support life. The planet-hunting spacecraft will use a special, highly-elliptical orbit, with a 2:1 lunar resonance, shows Spaceflight 101. That is about 20 times what the Kepler mission was able to detect'. This includes 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars.

An illustration of the TESS spacecraft in orbit.

Scientists expect that the TESS telescope will continue Kepler's work and discover thousands of other Earth-like and super-Earth-sized exoplanets.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) spacecraft is in excellent health, and remains ready for launch.

SpaceX launch live stream NASA TESS watch online
NASASpaceX launch The TESS satellite will scan 200,000 stars for signs of exoplanets

Some 30 to 100 times brighter than any of Kepler's targets, these stars' luster allows researchers to study the absorption and emission of light in an effort to determine a planet's mass, density, and atmospheric composition.

Orbiting between the Earth and the moon, TESS will survey almost the entire sky for comparatively brighter and closer stars - some dozens to hundreds of light years away - than Kepler saw.

"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky", NASA's Astrophysics Division director Paul Hertz said last month.

Hubble itself will also be replaced by the JWST (the James Webb Space Telescope) and will have 6.5-meter-wide mirror, capable of collecting more light than Hubble ever could.

While TESS should be great at finding planets, it doesn't have the scientific firepower to analyze them.

Today, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is hosting several events to be broadcast live on NASA TV. I don't think we know everything TESS is going to accomplish. This will further reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something out of the ordinary.

A good numerous new planets will be relatively close - within a few dozen light-years of Earth. It will collect about 27 gigabytes per day - that's about 6,500 song files - and send data back every two weeks. Some say it's a planet that orbits a star at just the right distance for liquid water to exist on its surface.

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