If anyone ever asks you what NASA is useful for, you can simply say ‘TESS’. It’s the American space agency’s exoplanet-hunting space telescope that just completed a two-year cosmic mission on July 4, and its findings can help tremendously the ambitious endeavor of astronomers for finding life elsewhere in the Universe.
TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) will continue its cosmic journey until late 2022, at least. The space telescope was launched from Earth in April 2018.
TESS identified 66 confirmed exoplanets, as well as 2,100 potential candidates. These are huge achievements, considering that until less than three decades ago, scientists weren’t sure about the existence of planets beyond our solar system. That changed forever with the discovery of the first exoplanets that were revolving around the pulsar PSR B1257+12.
Max Tegmark, a Swedish-American astrophysicist, said it loud and clear that humanity always had a limited view about the Cosmos. At first, people believed that the Earth is flat and the only liveable place. The next step was to believe that the Earth is the center of the Universe and having the Sun revolving around it. Going further in time, people thought that our galaxy is the only one in the entire Universe. It turned out that all of these ideas were wrong, but a similar thing may happen again, according to Tegmark: we all might be living in a Multiverse composed of many Universes just like our own.
Patricia Boyd, project scientist for TESS, declared:
TESS is producing a torrent of high-quality observations providing valuable data across a wide range of science topics,
As it enters its extended mission, TESS is already a roaring success.
For the moment, humanity doesn’t possess the right technology to send people to any exoplanet. Astronomers cling on the hope that humans will arrive to Mars in the near future, and that’s a much more feasible scenario.