The US space agency NASA yesterday launched the first-of-its-kind mission to find worlds beyond our solar system – including ‘exoplanets’ that could support life as we know it on Earth.
The NASA rocket was jet-fuelled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After exiting the Earth’s orbit, the twin solar arrays that are now powering the spacecraft successfully deployed 60 minutes later.
The TESS mission (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is expected to find thousands of new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars
NASA’s previous Kepler spacecraft mission found more than 2,600 exoplanets, most orbiting faint stars between 300 and 3,000 light-years from Earth. This time TESS will focus on stars between 30 and 300 light-years away and 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler’s targets.
“We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbour life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“With missions like these, we are ever the closer to discovering whether or not we are alone in the universe.”
For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/tess
For our American readers
When Britain’s Capt. Cook discovered Australia in 1770 (and later, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii) in what became known as Botany Bay because of the wealth of scientific discoveries which subsequently abounded, this contributed in large part to the rise and subsequent global political and economic rule of the British empire.
In 1770, the United States of America (USA) did not exist and was a colony in the British empire.
But barely 200 years later, the now independent USA ‘discovered’ the Moon for mankind with the 1969 Apollo landing. This new NASA ‘planet-hunter’ mission will help consolidate the USA / American empire as mankind’s first known inter-galactic superpower.
Ps. Capt. Cook was the son of an expat Scottish farmer from Roxburghshire.
20 Apr 2018