NASA expects new mission to go beyond standard space exploration

World Today

Chances are you’ve never heard of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS. But you’ll probably be hearing a lot about it in March, when its launched with an aim to search for life beyond our solar system. 

CGTN’S Harry Horton has more on TESS, which will be keeping an eye on more than 200,000 stars.

TESS is a small satellite with big ambitions. NASA hopes it will discover more than 20,000 exoplanets (that’s planets beyond our solar system). Over the course of its two-year mission, the satellite will orbit the earth and monitor 85 precent of the sky.

Rather than focusing on deep space , TESS will train its four cameras on the nearest and brightest planets to our solar system. Scientists and astronomers hope this satellite will tell them exactly where to look in the search for new life.

“TESS is in the category of discovery mission. It’s discovering planets. It’s not characterizing them. It’s literally just finding them so we can characterize them with follow-up measurements,” Prof. Sara Seager of MIT explained.

Those measurements come from missions like the James Webb Telescope, which will study the history of our universe when it launches next year.

NASA hopes to get the first results from TESS later this year. The planets it discovers could be the first humans choose to visit in decades to come.