NASA’s NEW EXOPLANET HUNTING SATELLITE TO BE LAUNCHED ON 18th APRIL 2018
Yesterday (April 16th) was the date to launch the satellite. But it had been delayed and hopefully will be launched tomorrow. “Tonight’s launch has been delayed for teams to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis, according to the NASA. The new target launch date is Wednesday, April 18.”
NASA’s Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Sattelite (TESS) is now ready, currently running on fumes, launching tomorrow into space in hopes of finding many more astounding exoplanets this year.
According to the NASA press release, TESS will orbit the earth every 13.7 days, beaming back data when it passes closest to Earth. At its farthest point, or apogee, TESS will have an unobstructed view of the sky and will move beyond the interference from the Van Allen radiation belts which encircle the earth.
If things don’t work out for tonight’s launch, there will be a few other launch opportunities later this month. But if TESS doesn’t launch by April 26, it may be bumped for 45 days for the launch of NASA’s Insight Mars Mission.
Although TESS will be great for finding planets, it doesn’t have the scientific firepower to analyze them, therefore it will work with other telescopes. Once TESS brings back data on potential planets, robotic telescopes at the Smithsonian’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, near Arizona, Tuscon, and on Cerro Tololo in Chile will focus on the stars to confirm they are planets and not stars.
The major goal of TESS is to reach to planets that inhabit in the Goldilocks zone, where the surface temperature suggests liquid water exists, which could bring about the possibility of life. “The first thing is we’re looking for is water vapor,” Says Sarah Seager at MIT, “Because life as we know it needs liquid water…After water, oxygen would be fantastic…After that, we have lots of gases we’re interested in, but mostly in space we’re looking for gases that don’t belong that are there in high quantities, enough to really be detected from far away.”