Watch launch of TESS planet-hunting mission April 16

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. raises $113 million to chase a pipe dream		
		
	Lucas Matney

   	7 hours

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. raises $113 million to chase a pipe dream Lucas Matney 7 hours

It's not the first space telescope to hunt for exoplanets.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the heir to NASA's Kepler exoplanet mission throne, is set to orbit Earth while pointing it's viewfinders out to space.

NASA's new planet hunting telescope promises to change that.

Fortunately, its successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is readily sitting in the nose cone of a rocket at Florida. "Our number of exoplanets is going to go through the roof".

"We're going to look at every single one of those stars", said the mission's chief scientist George Ricker of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Are Earth-sized planets common?"

Instead of looking for faraway planets in a small patch of the sky, TESS will survey the whole sky - dividing it into 26 slabs. It is equipped with more powerful cameras that can cover a sky area 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler. A handful of Kepler exoplanets might be like our own Earth.

"In 30-minute samples, Kepler was able to look at about 170,000 stars".

The total mission price tag for Tess is $337 million.

And that means a lot more planets. They have the right size and the right orbit of their star to support surface water and, at least theoretically, to support life. The said exoplanets are orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 star. "What is this planet actually like?'"

And the closer the star, the easier it will be to see the planet's atmosphere as it passes in front of its sun. Much like NASA's Kepler space observatory, TESS will use its high-spec tech to pinpoint undiscovered planets. "That's just not practical now".

"More than 75 per cent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy are this type", Dr Ricker explained.




Kepler's discoveries make up most of the confirmed exoplanets found within the last couple of decades.

Tess's cameras work by taking advantage of how red dwarfs function. This means numerous planets it detects will have short orbits. This has made it clear that the galaxy is saturated with planets.

Professor Bedding and colleagues used data from the Kepler spacecraft to discover a phenomenon known as star quakes in red giant stars.

"One of the cool things that've realised is we should discover some gravitational wave sources, kilonova, with TESS", Dr Tucker said.

"It packs a big punch, and that's the part that we're really excited about", Ricker said.

Australian telescopes will play role in discoveriesUK Schmidt Telescope.

"Having TESS in the fold is just fantastic", Jessie Dotson, an astrophysicist at NASA's Ames Research Center and the project scientist for the Kepler spacecraft, told The Verge. "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". The space agency will give a mission overview at 11 a.m.to be followed with a press conference at 1 p.m. Mission scientists and experts involved in the TESS mission will answer questions during the live broadcast. "They can move around and get themselves in the right spot where the star is", he said.

This is one of many missions NASA has partnered on with Elon Musk Rocket Company.

According to NASA, the satellite's unique orbit will allow it to transmit data back to Earth each time that it is closest to planet.

It will be the most extensive survey of its kind from orbit, with Tess, a galactic scout, combing the neighborhood as never before. But now Kepler is running out of fuel and its successful journey is expected to end in the next few months.

"The original view is that there would be a big gap between the two".

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