In recent years, we have seen a growing interest in searching for planets outside of our solar system. Astronomers are mostly driven by the quest of finding alien life, which might have developed on Earth 2.0 somewhere in the universe. Now, thanks to NASA’s TESS satellite, this task could become easier than ever.
At least 73 stars with exoplanets have been identified by TESS
An image depicting stars of the Southern Sky, taken by NASA’s satellite TESS, has been released by astronomers on Monday. According to George Ricker, a leader of the project and an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) managed to uncover at least 73 stars that could potentially have exoplanets. Most importantly, the majority of them have been identified for the first time.
The role of TESS in search for the second Earth
The astronomers estimate that there could be billions of planets in our galaxy. The role of TESS is to identify them by observing the light of stars. Any blinking or dimming could be a sign that a planet passes in front of a star. Once such exoplanet is unearthed, the scientists would study it closely using the giant telescopes on the ground or in space. Ricker and his team say that within 300 light years, there could be as many as 500 of them.
There’s more to come
The mission of the satellite started on April 18th, when it was launched from Cape Canaveral with help from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. TESS’ looping orbit takes it to the moon and then back near Earth, allowing the satellite to share the gathered data. The astronomers hope that its four cameras will help to locate many potentially habitable exoplanets in the near future.
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