Technology NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds

10:42  16 april  2018
10:42  16 april  2018 Source:   AFP

SpaceX blasts off NASA's new planet-hunter, TESS

  SpaceX blasts off NASA's new planet-hunter, TESS NASA on Wednesday blasted off its newest planet-hunting spacecraft, TESS, a $337 million satellite that aims to scan 85 percent of the skies for cosmic bodies where life may exist. "Three, two, one and liftoff!" said a NASA commentator as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) soared into the blue sky atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:51 pm (2251 GMT).The washing machine-sized spacecraft is built to search outside the solar system, scanning the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

NASA ? s new planet - hunting Kepler telescope launched into space late Friday, lighting up the night sky above Florida as it began an ambitious mission to seek out Earth - like planets around alien stars.

NASA has discovered an earth - like planet orbiting around a star, what a NASA researcher called a "bigger, older cousin to Earth." Top of the World . Workarounds. Time Cover Store.

This NASA handout artist's rendition shows the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA Explorer mission launching in 2018 to study exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars outside our solar system© Provided by AFP This NASA handout artist's rendition shows the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA Explorer mission launching in 2018 to study exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars outside our solar system NASA is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Its main goal over the next two years is to scan more than 200,000 of the brightest stars for signs of planets circling them and causing a dip in brightness known as a transit.

Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space

  Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space If one planet gets thrown out, others in the neighborhood might go down with it, the study suggested.David Fleming, a student from University of Washington and the lead author of the study, posited the theory after taking a close look at short-term eclipsing binaries, or the system in which the orbital path of stars is so close to the line of sight, one star appears to cross the other’s path for a short while.

NASA mission to reap bonanza of earth -sized planets . Arizona State University' s School of Earth and Space Exploration recently released new research on its flagship Smart Course, Habitable Worlds , published in the peer-reviewed journal, Astrobiology.

NASA just discovered a new Earth - like alien planet called Kepler 452b. NASA announced on Thursday that the agency' s planet - hunting Keppler Space Telescope has found a new planet that is potentially more Earth - like than any other world previously discovered.

NASA predicts that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets -- or planets outside the solar system -- including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth.

"They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars," Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, told reporters on Sunday.

"We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye," she added.

"So in the next few years we might even be able to walk outside and point at a star and know that it has a planet. This is the future."

Follow-on to Kepler

TESS is designed as a follow-on to the US space agency's Kepler spacecraft, which was the first of its kind and launched in 2009. Now, the aging spacecraft is low on fuel and near the end of its life.

The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System

  The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System <p>An unusual discovery in the 1990s paved the way for space telescopes to spot thousands of exoplanets.</p>The discovery of 51 Pegasi b, as it was called, was just the beginning. The astronomy community was witnessing “A Parade of New Planets,” declared a headline in Scientific American in 1996. In the months since the exoplanet discovery had been announced, the publication reported, astronomers had reported finding at least four more planets.

Planet - hunting mission confirms eight new worlds , including some of the most Earthlike yet. SEATTLE— NASA ' s venerable planet - hunter , the Kepler spacecraft, has shaken its (Learn more about habitable-zone planets in "Kepler Telescope Discovers Most Earth - Like Planet Yet.")

Researchers at NASA ' s Kepler project have discovered three potentially Earth - like worlds . NASA ' s Kepler mission, which seeks out planets outside of our solar system, has just discovered five new planets around two stars - and three of them have the potential to be habitable.

Kepler found a massive trove of exoplanets by focusing on one patch of sky, which contained about 150,000 stars like the Sun.

The Kepler mission found 2,300 confirmed exoplanets and nearly 4,500 candidates. But many were too distant and dim to study further.

TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone.

"By looking at such a large section of the sky –- this kind of stellar real estate -- we open up the ability to cherry-pick the best stars to do follow up science," said Jenn Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

"On average the stars that TESS finds observes be 30-100 times brighter and 10 times closer than the stars that Kepler focused on."

Since TESS uses the same method as Kepler for finding potential planets, by tracking the dimming of light when a celestial body passes in front of a star, the next step is for ground-based and space telescopes to peer closer.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere.

"TESS forms a bridge from what we have learned about exoplanets to date and where we are headed in the future," said Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS should be a stepping stone to future breakthroughs, he said.

"With the hope that someday, in the next decades, we will be able to identify the potential for life to exist outside the solar system."

Weather was expected to be 80 percent favorable for launch.

More than 100 parts for NASA's Orion capsule to be 3D printed .
More than 100 parts for U.S. space agency NASA's deep-space capsule Orion will be made by 3D printers, using technology that experts say will eventually become key to efforts to send humans to Mars. U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, 3D printing specialist Stratasys, and engineering firm PADT have developed the parts using new materials that can withstand the extreme temperatures and chemical exposure of deep space missions, Stratasys said on Tuesday."In space, for instance, materials will build up a charge.

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