Do you remember those days when scientists couldn’t be absolutely sure about the existence of other planets besides those from our own solar system? It wasn’t a long time ago, was it? In the present, there are known by the scientists over 4,000 exoplanets, and we can’t find any reason why the number would stop growing tremendously.
Now, NASA has another useful toy for finding planets outside our own solar system: it’s the TESS space telescope, and it orbits Earth every 13.7 days.
10,000 new worlds expected to be found
TESS has a unique ability to search for planets in tens of thousands of stars. And while most stars have planets orbiting them, the estimated number of new planets discovered exceeds 10,000.
NASA’s TESS mission began last year in April. Its mission is to seek other Earth-sized planets, but with a different and more efficient method than before. The telescope looks for dimming moments that happen when planets pass in front of their stars, blocking some starlight. By observing such transits, you can detect the planet itself but also its size and orbit.
Brief history of TESS
According to Wikipedia, the telescope was launched over a year ago while being attached to a Falcon 9 rocket. It had the initial mission to find at least 20,000 transiting planets outside our solar system (exoplanets). However, less than half a year before the originally planned end of the mission, the telescope only discovered only 34 exoplanets.
One of the main objectives of TESS was to track the brightest stars near Earth for transiting planets over a period of two years. The TESS satellite uses a structure of wide-field cameras to create a survey of 85% of the sky. This telescope studies the mass, density, size, and orbit of a large number of small planets, including rocky planets in the habitable zones.
Should we hope for TESS to discover alien and highly intelligent life forms? Whether they exist or not, both variants are equally frightening.