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What is TESS? NASA, SpaceX’s collaboration in search for life outside Earth( Financial Express)

NASA’s little spacecraft, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will ascend on a Falcon 9 rocket of the SpaceX to go up in the space on April 16 at 6:32 PM.

The search for the cosmic real estate is about to begin anew with NASA and SpaceX joining hands for their all-new combined mission. NASA’s little spacecraft, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will ascend on a Falcon 9 rocket of the SpaceX to go up in the space on April 16 at 6:32 PM, reported The New York Times. TESS, abound with cameras and ambition, would be staying between the moon and the Earth for at least two years, scanning the sky for alien worlds.

The leader of the TESS team, George Ricker, who is also a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology expects that TESS would discover nearly 500 Earth-sized planets within 300 light-years of here. This would let the new generation of telescopes on Earth and in space study looking for habitability, and perhaps even inhabitants.

TESS is the latest effort to answer questions that have intrigued mankind for the last 30 years: Is there life outside the Earth? Are there other Earths or is it the only planet with humans? Evidence of even a single microbe anywhere else in the galaxy is sure to stun science. Over a decade ago, astronomers didn’t know if planets outside our solar system existed, too or, if there were any, whether they could ever be discovered or not. But post-1995, after the discovery of a planet circling the sun-like star 51 Pegasi, there has been a revolution.

NASA’s spacecraft, Kepler, discovered near about 4,000 possible planets in the Milky Way galaxy, after it was launched in 2009. Thanks to Kepler’s discovery, astronomers now think there are other potentially habitable planets in our galaxy, meaning the nearest one could be as close as 10 to 15 light-years from here. Kepler made its way ahead to survey other star fields but soon, its pointing system broke and after having spent nine years in space, it is now running out of fuel. So now, the torch is passed on to TESS. It’s now TESS’s job to survey those nearby planets.

Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the MIT and also a member of the TESS team reportedly said that most stars with planets were really far away from our galaxy and TESS would only fill in planets around nearby stars. But, according to TESS, there would be more than just planets in the universe.

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