NASA's TESS begins hunt for planets in other solar systems

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New "planet hunter" American space Agency begins its work - the search for other worlds, especially those where it can be life.

"I'm thrilled that our planet hunter is ready to start combing the backyard of our solar system for new worlds", Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics division, said in the statement.

TESS is the latest spacecraft launched by NASA to look for exoplanets, which are planets that exist outside the solar system. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground.

"Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", Paul added.

The TESS Science Team will start crawling the data immediately after its arrival, said NASA.

During its two-year survey, TESS will watch a wide variety of stars, looking for signs of planets ranging from Earth-size to larger than Jupiter.

To recall, TESS was launched on April 18, 2018, aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and is aimed at finding thousands of exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars. These passes are called "transits" and they're the best indicator we have for spotting far-off worlds.

The satellite makes its way around the Earth once every two weeks or so (13.5 days to be exact) and each time it completes and orbit it'll send back a wealth of science data.

The telescope has four cameras, each with a 16.8 megapixel sensor. Over the course of the mission the satellite will study 85 per cent of the sky- an area 350 times greater than what NASA's Kepler mission first observed-making it the first exoplanet mission to survey almost the entire sky.

Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. TESS will study stars 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler targets and also cover an area of sky 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler. In fact, the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, developed in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency will study these exoplanets.