NASA celebrates launch of new exoplanet telescope, dubbed TESS

By Andrea Rodriguez, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will search the skies for planets around 200,000 stars, searching for signs of life, solar systems and even for earth-like, rocky…

NASA celebrates launch of new exoplanet telescope, dubbed TESS

By Andrea Rodriguez, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will search the skies for planets around 200,000 stars, searching for signs of life, solar systems and even for earth-like, rocky planets.

Scientists and engineers celebrated the launch of the NASA-supported mission Friday with a dramatic event that featured lasers, confetti and confetti cannons at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch was originally set for April 30 but was delayed several times because of problems with the rocket.

The spacecraft is expected to observe some 200,000 stars, zeroing in on the tiny fraction of stars with planets orbiting them. Researchers hope to learn more about the makeup of these planets and even about other unseen planets.

The TESS telescope consists of two telescopes. The primary telescope has a 6.5-meter field of view, and the secondary telescope has an even larger 6.8-meter field of view. It has the power to find and study objects much smaller than the Earth. That makes it easier for scientists to detect signs of life outside our solar system.

“Without taking any additional time, we are opening up the widest possible aperture of the most sophisticated looking telescope in the world,” said NASA scientist Katharine Abraham.

The job is so important that several teams and individuals contributed to the project, and some of the initial funding came from oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens.

“We can determine now whether we have a common planet that we are all in the same family with or another world to look for life beyond Earth,” Abraham said.

The federal government has spent more than $450 million on the mission, and Mexico and Denmark are contributing about $100 million. The European Space Agency is also involved.

The first batch of TESS data won’t be available until early next year, so scientists are eager to learn more about why TESS was delayed.

Friday’s launch celebration featured the thrill of a comet strike as confetti sprayed from the International Space Station onto the launch pad. The crowd included astronauts from the ISS who watched from afar. They were busy washing dishes or fueling up, so they couldn’t join in the celebration.

It was a quiet moment amid the fireworks and confetti before the satellite was hoisted into space.

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This article was written by Andrea Rodriguez from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

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