Watch SpaceX launch an observatory to hunt alien planets

В Атлантическом океане нашли фрагмент ракеты SpaceX

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launch is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system that will study and document 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for any transiting exoplanets.

Scientists expect Tess to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, maybe even water worlds and places defying imagination - possibly even a twin Earth.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: And that is very unsatisfying because after all, what scientists really want to do is find another planet like our own, one that some form of life could call home.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here today at 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT).

GREENFIELDBOYCE: She says they've got to start looking somewhere, and TESS will tell them where.

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If the launch this evening goes as planned, NASA has already predicted that Tess could discover as many as 1,600 new worlds within the first year of its operation.

Unlike Kepler however, Tess will be able to search an area 400 times larger. "These types of planets that are close to us are much more easy to study, and we can measure their masses from telescopes here on Earth".

TESS's job is to spot distant planets when they pass in front of even more distant stars, a movement known to astronomers as a "transit". For instance, the TESS could be used to identify potential evidence of other life forms. The media outlet is also broadcasting live coverage of the TESS launch, courtesy of the US space agency. "Using TESS data, missions like the James Webb Space Telescope can determine specific characteristics of these planets, including whether they could support life". The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come. That yields information about a planet's density and composition, as opposed to its diameter.

"Mass is a defining planetary characteristic", said Sara Seager, TESS deputy director of science at MIT. "One of the big surprises from Kepler was to find this whole population of planets with sizes between that of Neptune and Earth - and there aren't any in our solar system, zero - and they're everywhere out there", said Latham, who's worked on the Kepler project for almost 20 years.

The more people that look through the data, the better, the scientists believe.

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