TESS Approaches It First Major Orbit After “Terrific” launch

TESS was successfully launched last week. It was a grand spectacle when the planet-hunting satellite was set to work. The satellite fired its thrusters when it reached the farthest point in its orbit around the earth.

The satellite moved into an oval orbit after the launch, and it is expected to maneuver its way into its operational orbit by June carefully. TESS may have problems adjusting itself in its orbit. Hence, the presence of five thrusters at the bottom to adjust the exo-planet satellite in its orbit.

The first three thruster firing will place the satellite in a position to meet the moon on May 17. The planet-hunting satellite carries for cameras. The cameras feature sensor detectors that will detect planets.

TESS which is expected to explore over 85 percent of the sky. The team will switch the TESS’s cameras on this week to take test images and test their functionality. TESS is expected to reach its final orbit by June 17, where it would get ready to start its planet-hunting task.

According to George Ricker, leader of TESS science team at Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, MIT, said the satellite would find planets including rocking worlds and Red Dwarfs stars in transition.

He also said that TESS would do more than Kepler did. Even though Kepler found planets, most of them are further away from the earth. He also noted that Kepler was not equipped to look at a broader part of the sky, it only looked at sections of the sky.

TESS, on the other hand, will hunt for planets closer to the earth and will also build on the discoveries made by Kepler.

Ricker also revealed that the duration of the hunt would not be cut short due to low fuel. He mentioned that the satellite has enough fuel to allow TESS to hunt for planets for at least twenty years.

He also stated that the moon gravitational force is of immense help to the stabilization of the satellite in its final orbit. He said that once TESS’s orbit is stable, no maintenance is required.

He earlier stated that this orbit is unstable and if the satellite is not launched well, the satellite will hit the moon in four years.

Robert Lockwood, TESS’s program manager, described the launch as “terrific.” He said that the launch seemed unreal until TESS was no longer there.