TESS Exoplanet Hunter

NASA’s newest planet-hunting powerhouse, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), leapt into orbit Wednesday evening (April 18) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

About TESS mission:

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky.

Mission: The mission will monitor at least 200,000 stars for signs of exoplanets, ranging from Earth-sized rocky worlds to huge gas giant planets. TESS, however, will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler examined. This will help astronomers better understand the structure of solar systems outside of our Earth, and provide insights into how our own solar system formed.

TESS will occupy a never-before-used orbit high above Earth. The elliptical orbit, called P/2, is exactly half of the moon’s orbital period; this means that TESS will orbit Earth every 13.7 days. Its closest point to Earth (67,000 miles or 108,000 kilometres) is about triple the distance of geosynchronous orbit, where most communications satellites operate.

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