With the launch of TESS, NASA will boost its search for exoplanets | Science News

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With the launch of TESS, NASA will boost its search for exoplanets

Astronomers expect TESS to find 20,000 faraway planets in the next two years

7:00am, April 12, 2018
illustration of TESS telescpope

LOOK CLOSER  NASA’s next exoplanet hunting telescope, TESS (shown in this artist’s illustration), will seek out worlds orbiting the nearest and brightest stars.

NASA is stepping up its search for planets outside our solar system. Its next exoplanet hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is due to launch from Cape Canaveral on the evening of April 16.

Following the Kepler space telescope’s discovery of more than 5,000 possible exoplanets since 2009, TESS will continue the galactic census — flagging more planetary candidates for further study.

Astronomers expect TESS to find about 20,000 planets in its first two years in operation, focusing on nearby, bright stars that will be easy for other telescopes to investigate later. About 500 of those expected exoplanets would be less than twice the size of Earth — and therefore may be good places to look for life.

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