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Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

Why is it in the news?

  • Astronomers recently used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to discover and analyse TOI-715b, a potentially habitable zone planet.

About TESS

  • TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is a NASA mission aimed at discovering planets orbiting the brightest stars visible from Earth.
  • Launched on April 18, 2018, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, USA, TESS succeeded NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which operated from 2009 to 2018.
  • The main mission of TESS concluded on July 4, 2020, and it is currently in an extended mission phase.
  • TESS follows a high Earth orbit, completing its cycle every 12 to 15 days, strategically inclined to minimize obstructions from Earth and the Moon, ensuring an unimpeded view of the sky.
  • During its primary mission, TESS’s four cameras scanned over 200,000 nearby and bright stars, covering 75% of the sky.
  • TESS discovers planets using the transit technique, which involves detecting regular dips in the brightness of stars as planets pass in front of them. The size of the dip in brightness corresponds to the size of the planet, and the duration of the transit helps determine the shape and size of the planet’s orbit.
  • TESS has uncovered a wide variety of planets, ranging from small rocky ones to giant gas planets, showcasing the diversity of planets within the galaxy.

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