NASA satellite to launch will seek new exoplanets

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She told reporters on the eve of the launch: 'It was created to look at 150,000 stars in a fairly wide field of view without blinking, for four years.

This is the first time in history when a space-borne all-sky transit survey will be conducted.

The launch has been a long time coming for NASA.

While Kepler confirmed some 2,300 exoplanets and thousands more potential planet candidates, many were too distant and dim to be studied further.

TAMPA-Nasa is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life. It will work to look through the closest, brightest stars for indications of intermittent darkening. Approximately 300 of those are expected to be Earth-sized or no larger than twice Earth-sized.

The much-anticipated launch of NASA's newest exoplanet hunter has been rescheduled, the US space agency announced in a brief news release. It was in 1992 that the first two exoplanets were discovered orbiting a pulsar-a rapidly rotating neutron star-2,300 light years from Earth. CHEOPs and the other scopes will then figure out the position, mass, density, atmosphere and other data about the planets.

Because these stars will be nearby, their exoplanets will be ideally suited for follow-up observations by the James Webb Space Telescope (hopefully launching in 2020), as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes.

In 24 months, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) should have sampled 85 percent of the heavens, taking in some 500,000 stars - many of which will be among the nearest and brightest in the sky. However, Kepler only had access to a fraction of the sky and most of the stars it studied are extremely faint, making it hard for astronomers to look more closely at the planets.

The NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission is led and operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center. If his ballon-stunt works (it's probably not a real party balloon, but since it's Musk we're talking about here, who knows), SpaceX would have become capable of recovering almost the entire assembly.

It is unlikely that JWST or any other existing telescope would be capable of detecting biosignatures on an exoplanet as small as Earth. "We're on this scenic tour of the whole sky, and in some ways we have no idea what we will see". It will collect about 27 gigabytes per day - that's about 6,500 song files - and send data back every two weeks.

"Tess will tell us where and when to point", said Cheops' Esa project scientist, Kate Isaak.

"It really has a chance to find a rocky planet, that's the right distance from its star, the right temperature to have life on its surface".