TESS missions seek potential for habitability at Earthlike planet – Exoplanets

In the face of the fast-paced, and often dangerous, changes that Earth is going through, NASA goes an extra mile in searching the universe for planets outside the Solar System and hopefully find one that is much like this world.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has one important mission: to scan the vast space outside the solar system and search for exoplanets, which will hopefully help the current space technology in finding and targeting a rocky world much like Earth and Venus.

Current research and attempts to find planets outside the solar system has mostly involved distant stars that are nearly impossible to determine. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seeks to remedy that with the TESS mission which will work in conjunction with the ground-based observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.

“The problem is that we’ve had very few exoplanet targets that are good for follow-up,” said TESS Project Scientist Stephen Rinehart, as reported by NASA.  “TESS will change that.”

In locating the exoplanets and pinpointing the rocky worlds, the space agency hopes to study the atmosphere makeup and determine if the planet is at all habitable.

“There are a couple of things we like to see as a potential for habitability – one of them is water, which is probably the single most important, because as far as we know, all life that we’re familiar with depends on water in some way,” Rinehart said. “The other is methane, which on our Earth is produced almost entirely biologically.”

The importance of TESS doesn’t stop on exoplanets. The TESS Guest Invetigator (GI) Program will allow scientists on the ground to explore virtually anything that they find to be astronomically interesting. This means that either scientist will pick up on various things through TESS data or they infer from it and identify interesting variables.

In summary, the GI Program will allow Earth’s scientists to slice up the data and study all the things they find interesting which could be flare stars or even active galaxies.

TESS is set to launch no later than June 2018, and scientists all around the world are anxiously waiting for it just because of the sheer amount of opportunities it will open up to better understand the mystery of the universe.

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