NASA discovers three new worlds: what are they?

NASA’s planet hunting satellite is on the first-of-its-kind mission to find new worlds beyond our solar system and identify the ones that could support alien life.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, lifted off at 4:21 am IST on April 19 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors. TESS will use four unique wide-field cameras to map 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky during its first year of observations and 13 sectors of the northern sky during the second year, altogether covering 85 % of the sky. TESS will be watching for phenomena called transits.

A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer’s perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness. More than 78 % of the approximately 3,700 confirmed exoplanets have been found using transits. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth, using this same method of watching for transits.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 4:17:15 PM |

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