TESS, or Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is the latest spacecraft designed by NASA to explore the Universe. Officially, it was declared ready to start its mission and on July 25th TESS begun its quest of finding exoplanets. If you didn’t already know, exoplanets are planets which reside outside of our cozy solar system.
Sometime in August TESS will send its very first data feedback and this keeps people on the edge of their seats in anticipation. This includes Paul Hertz, member of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and director of the Astrophysics Division. Apparently, he is quite anxious to receive news from TESS, their new planet hunter that started to scour outside our solar system to find new worlds.
Because there are more planets than stars in the galaxies of our universe Paul Hertz looks forward to seeing which fantastic worlds would be discovered. It all began with Kepler, a spacecraft which was sent almost 10 years ago to do the very thing that TESS does now, searching exoplanets similar to our Earth situated near stars similar to our Sun.
Although Kepler is almost reaching the end of its mission, it has managed to come across 2650 exoplanets, with more expected to be found through the data that Kepler has collected. The difference between these two spacecrafts is represented by how much of the sky they can observe.
Kepler could only focus on a fraction of the sky, yet still finding a lot of exoplanets. However, they are extremely far away from us and that’s where TESS reaches in to carry on the torch. Able of mapping up to 85% of the sky, TESS attempts to find exoplanets closer to home which will allow our many telescopes to properly research them.
TESS works by looking for small dips in the starlight to spot distant planets. After it was launched in April, TESS took a photograph in May that shows over 200000 stars. On its two-year mission, TESS is expected to find approximately 1600 exoplanets.