NASA Launches Satellite to Search for Alien Worlds

(From BBC News)

The US space agency’s Tess satellite has launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission to find thousands of new worlds beyond our Solar System.

The mission will survey a great swathe of stars, hoping to catch the dips in brightness that occur when orbiting planets traverse their faces.

Tess’s goal is to compile a catalogue that other telescopes can then focus in on for more detailed analysis.

“Tess is equipped with four very sensitive cameras that will enable it to monitor nearly the entire sky,” said George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which leads the project.

“The types of planets that Tess will detect are revealed by a process called a transit. We can see the shadow, effectively, of the planet as it passes in front of its host star.”

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