New hunter NASA TESS begins the search for other worlds

Обсерватория TESS запустила программу для поиска неизведанных планет

NASA's New Planet Hunter Begins Its Search for Alien Worlds

As of 20 January 2015 (according to the extrasolar planets Encyclopedia) reliably established the existence of exoplanets in 1900 1202 planetary system, 480 of which more than one planet.

"I'm thrilled that our planet hunter is ready to start combing the backyard of our solar system for new worlds", said Paul Hertz, NASA Astrophysics division director at Headquarters, Washington. For the next two years, TESS will be monitoring numerous nearest and brightest of the stars and analyzing their periodic dips of light. "With possibly more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover". TESS will watch each observation sector for about 27 days before rotating to the next.

But whereas Kepler was limited to poring over a small patch of sky during its primary mission, TESS will study nearly all of the sky in its two planned years of observations. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground.

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The primary goal of TESS is to find exoplanets that can be characterized with ground-based follow-up surveys.

TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits. Using this transit method has already proven to be quite successful as was shown by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was able to locate 3,750 of these exoplanets.

TESS will send that initial data to Earth in August, with new observations arriving every 13.5 days after that, mission team members said in a statement.

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Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

The team that designed TESS has calculated that the instrument should spot about 1,600 new exoplanets, including some the size of Earth.

The mission should come relatively cheaply, according to Space.com -the TESS satellite's cost is capped at $200 million, while the Kepler telescope it replacedcost about $600 million. TESS will study stars 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler targets and also cover an area of sky 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler.

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