TESS Embarks on a Mission to Discover More Exoplanets

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite was recently delivered to space with a SpaceX Falcon 9 onboard. It has launched from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida, which was followed by an uneventful countdown with healthy hardware as well as great weather.

The agency’s launch commentator John Finch said that the liftoff of the rocket carrying a spacecraft would search for unidentified worlds across the solar system. TESS will be the first all-sky or space-based surveyor to find other possible exoplanets, known as the planets outside the solar system. 

Nevertheless, the role of the spacecraft goes beyond that. As a matter of fact, it is specially designed to search for those that are similar to the Earth or close to the celestial neighborhood. Whatever the data it gathers on space, it will be used for further studies by different scientists. 

NASA’s associate administrator in Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said that they were thrilled that TESS was on its way to help them discover worlds they have never imagined to exist. There might harbor life or could be possibly habitable. 

How will the rocket find such planets? Similar to the Kepler mission, TESS will utilize a transit method. It will stare at the stars in a particular section on space to watch for any telltale flicker of a specific planet. 

Launched for nine years ago, Kepler focused on a portion of space and was able to find some planets with sizes similar to the Earth. On the other hand, TESS is much more tailored to look for stars brighter than those seen by the former. Plus, it can scan a larger area a hundred or a thousand miles away from it. 

But first, the rocket had to be launched. Right after the successful liftoff, it has performed well and sent the spacecraft into an orbit. When it comes to the twin solar arrays to power the satellite, it was successfully deployed in no time. 

NASA’s Launch Services Program Tim Dunn said that they had a perfect countdown as well as a hassle-free TESS launch. He also added that the Falcon 9 continued to show how reliable and effective it had to be. 

Within several weeks, TESS will employ six thruster burns to travel in several elongated orbits, reaching the moon. These tools will provide gravitational support to help the spacecraft transfer as fast and successful as possible. After three months of testing and check-out, it will start to do its work.