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NASA’s TESS Space Telescope Begins Hunt for Undiscovered Planets

01 August 2018

"In one of the last passes, TESS performed a 'break dance, ' rotating around to evaluate any stray light sources to characterize camera performance for the duration of the mission", the space agency wrote on Twitter in June.

TESS, also known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, has begun scouring the stars just outside the solar system for signs of alien planets in orbit, NASA reports.

Back in May, TESS snapped its first image as a two-second exposure test. "Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover". Its first observations' data transmission will take place in August and then it will continue to send updates every 13-14 days for at least the next two years. For the next two years, TESS will be monitoring numerous nearest and brightest of the stars and analyzing their periodic dips of light.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) officially started science observations July 25, according to a NASA statement. The science team is ready to analyse the data and would start looking for new planets as soon as the first series of data is transmitted.

These events, called transits, suggest that a planet may be passing in front of its star. It is expected that the spacecraft will find thousands of planets using this method until the end of its journey and some of the planets could potentially support life.

The TESS telescope equipped with four telescopes with matrices a resolution of 16.8 megapixels, which operate in the spectral range from 600 to 1000 nanometers.

NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission, TESS, is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"TESS will search 85 percent of our sky for exoplanets orbiting bright stars and our nearest stellar neighbors", Martin Still, NASA headquarters program scientist for TESS, told Newsweek. "TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions". Over the course of the mission the satellite will study 85 per cent of the sky- an area 350 times greater than what NASA's Kepler mission first observed-making it the first exoplanet mission to survey almost the entire sky.

NASA’s TESS Space Telescope Begins Hunt for Undiscovered Planets