NASA Seeks New Worlds
Named TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) observatory in space has started looking for new worlds.
Using its four cameras, the spacecraft began searching for signs of other planets on July 25. During mid-August, the satellite transmitted its first images down to Earth and will continue to do so for the next two years at the minimum. However, scientists expect the satellite to continue the mission beyond that time because its current orbit is quite stable. TESS’s project scientist Stephen Rinehart claims that the orbit is so stable that TESS could continue its job for "more than 100 years."
TESS’s main responsibility is to look for planets close to Earth’s nearest stars, which are up to 100 light years away. These planets should pass in front of the stars and block out their light, making it easier for scientists to study them. Any follow-up observations may give more insight into what they are made of and the content of their atmospheres.
It takes TESS about 14 days to complete one orbit of the Earth, with its closest distance to us being the same as the moon’s. When the satellite is away from Earth, it will take photos, and when it nears Earth, it will transmit the same photos for around 16 hours straight. These transmissions will be received by ground antennas, which are part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.
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Written by Koray Williams & Edited by Rachel Weissman & Alexander Fleiss
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