To discover exoplanets situated in different star system, NASA had launched its Kepler space telescope in the year 2009. Since the day it was launched, the telescope has detected thousands of exoplanets or extra solar planets. But, in March 2018, NASA informed that the space telescope is now running low on fuel and will stop functioning after few months. So, to keep running its exoplanet exploration program, NASA is now gearing up to launch an alternative satellite to the Kepler satellite. As per the information, NASA will launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) which will be the successor of the Kepler satellite.
TESS weighs around 700 pounds and will operate in an elliptical orbit. NASA will launch the satellite with the help of a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in between April and June. The satellite has four powerful cameras which will examine around 200, 000 stars. It will search for the stars situated around 300 light years away and 100 times brighter stars. Just like Kepler, TESS will use transit photometry method to look for visible and periodic lights coming from stars. It is believed that TESS will provide more detailed data of the exoplanets and of some of the Earth-like planets.
The scientists believe that these planets may have oceans, rocky surfaces and some other particles that can support life. The scientists hope that TESS will be able to discover about 10 to 30 such types of planets to help them carry out further study. Moreover, TESS is expected to arrive in an elliptical position in about 60 days.
Notably, Kepler lost control of its positioning system in the year 2013. Besides, some reports also informed few days ago that the satellite is running low on fuel. This is why, Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of astrophysics stated that it is a perfect time to launch TESS into space to continue the looking out for planets around stars.