On April 18, 2018, perched on a Falcon 9 rocket SpaceX launched a satellite specifically created for the hunting of planets. The Transiting, Exoplanet Survey Satellite, also known as TESS, a part of NASA’s explorer mission, will use the transit method in order to find and track exoplanets. The area to be covered by TESS is officially four hundred times larger than the area explored during the Kepler mission.
The Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket which carried TESS into space was manufactured by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40. TESS itself carried a price tag of nearly $340 million dollars.
Hopes for TESS include monitoring light from a vast number of stars in order to detect planets which have a possibility of being habitable by humans. The information gathered during the mission will be followed up by an extensive network of technicians stationed at ground and space observatories.
The launch was the 8th this year for SpaceX. It was the 53rd launch of a Falcon 9 rocket as well. TESS is scheduled to begin its pass by the moon on May 16th. Which will take 13 and a half days to complete before moving on deeper into space where it will begin the real hunt for habitable planets.
The James Webb Space Telescope, a super powerful tool created by NASA, will be following up on planets which information gathered by TESS designates as possibly habitable for humankind. The search for planets, which will include planets of various sizes in general, will have a main focus on smaller planets closer to the size of Earth. Specifically, planets which reside in their Suns goldilocks zones.
Padi Boyd, TESSs deputy project scientist has been quoted as comparing TESS to a spotter scope for the James Web Space Telescope. A very accurate statement.
Padi Boyd, TESSs deputy project scientist has been quoted as comparing TESS to a spotter scope for the James Web Space Telescope. A very accurate statement, and one which goes hand in hand with a statement made by a director of astrophysics for NASA, Paul Hertz.
“TESS itself will not be able to find life beyond Earth, but TESS will help us figure out where to point our larger telescopes in that search.”
It is truly an exciting time to be alive for human beings. In regards to space, technology, and the future of mankind, we have come to realize that the sky is not the limit, it is only the beginning.