NASA and SpaceX are together launching a new satellite into space Monday, with the goal of finding other planets that can potentially support life.
The new spacecraft is called TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and is tasked with discovering “thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky,” according to NASA’s website.
“To me, TESS represents the very first opportunity to really, truly make progress in this area of trying to find signs of life on other worlds,” MIT astrophysics professor Sara Seager told CNET in an interview. “It really has a chance to find a rocky planet … that’s the right distance from its star, the right temperature to have life on its surface. Tess will find a pool of planets like that.”
TESS’s mission is to monitor and catalogue over 200,000 stars in space for signs of other existing planets. The spacecraft will scan our solar neighbourhood looking for stars that exhibit “temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits,” which is a sign that a previously undiscovered planet may be crossing in front of a star, NASA’s website explains.
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