MIT Team Strives for the Stars, Satellite Off to Search Exoplanets 

 

By next week, a NASA-sponsored spacecraft made and developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will start a mission to explore possibility thousands of other planets just outside of the solar system.  

The TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) created at MIT will bring 4 cameras and be the very first to study the nearest brightest stars in the sky for indications of passing planets, according to MIT.

The space vehicle will spend 2 years assessing over twenty million stars to search for planets, zeroing in on their atmospheres for indications of the molecules and elements vital for life to develop. The group strives to measure the mass of approximately fifty small planets whose radii are less than 4 times that of the planet Earth.

While there are at least 3,500 confirmed exoplanets available – planets, which orbit stars outer the solar system – a lot has been discovered around faraway and faint stars. This innovative mission will mark exoplanets that are much closer to the planet. 

According to Jennifer Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, it is the best exoplanet hunter of NASA. She said that their team really need to concentrate on planets, which orbit brighter stars. 

TESS is searching to discover the brightest and nearest stars in the galaxy and discover planets around them so they can follow up later, according to the deputy manager of TESS Object of Interest, Natalia Guerrero. There is an MIT-led effort, which will catalog objects taken in TESS data, which may be possible exoplanets. 

The team is on their scenic journey of the entire sky, and in some ways, they have no thought what they will see. It is like they were creating a treasure map. The launch comes over a decade since the MIT crew first planned the mission to NASA and a lot of scientists are waiting with bated breath. 

Once the team has those images, the researchers will examine through them and check the light curves of every star. By staring for repeated dips on these curves, they will be able to determine which stars are being crossed by planets. Larger ground-based telescopes will do more thorough examinations of every planet to discover its density, radius, and mass. 

The spacecraft is planned to take off on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket coming from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this 16th of April.