Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

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Artist concept of TESS

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a planned NASA space telescope designed to search for planets outside of the Solar System (such planets are called exoplanets).

TESS was launched on April 18, 2018 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The total value of the launch services contract is US$87 million.[1] SpaceX was awarded the launch in December 2014.[2]

Orbit[change | change source]

TESS is orbiting the Earth with a period of about 14 days, which is half of the period of the Moon. The orbit will be highly elliptical, which means that it will be closer to the Earth at some points but very far from the Earth at other times. TESS will have four high-resolution cameras and will be continuously taking photos of the sky. It will send the photos to the laboratory on Earth which will make them available to scientists to study. Members of the public, like astronomy hobbyists and enthusiasts, will also be able to download and see the photos.

The main purpose of TESS is to find planets around other stars. Such planets, when they are orbiting around their stars, partially cover the stars and make them not as bright half of the time. This is called occultation. TESS will be looking for such stars.

TESS satellite will be small, about 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) in size, with the solar panel span of 3.7 meters (12 ft). It will weigh 350 kilograms (770 pounds) at launch.

References[change | change source]

  1. NASA (December 16, 2014). "NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite". Press release. Retrieved December 21, 2016. 
  2. Berger, Brian (December 17, 2014). "NASA Taps SpaceX To Launch TESS Satellite". SpaceNews. Retrieved December 21, 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]