NASA launches telescope to hunt down planets

NASA’s TESS satellite launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, on a mission to catalog thousands of planets outside the Solar System.

Roughly the size of a refrigerbator, TESS, which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, will survey an area of sky 400 times greater (CNN) than its 2009 predecessor, Kepler, which mapped over 2,000 exoplanets. During its two-year mission, TESS will observe around 200,000 of the stars closest to Earth (The Economist).

The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come,” said Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist. “It’s the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research.”

Sara Seager, TESS deputy science director said: “Think of it [the TESS mission] as a phone book; you’ll be able to look up the ones that interest you.”

Upcoming telescopes such as the James Webb space observatory, due into orbit in 2020, and the ground-based European Extremely Large Telescope, scheduled for operation in the early 2020s, will further investigate these discoveries (The Economist).,

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