In Searching for Planets like Earth.
The previous explorer Kepler, launched in 2009, surveyed just a tiny area of sky and has found more than 2,300 exoplanets, dozens of which could host liquid water. Based on Kepler's sampling, astronomers now believe that the Milky Way's planets could outnumber its stars, and that our galaxy could be home to billions of potentially habitable worlds.
The quest is continued by TESS, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, just launched on 18 April 2018. TESS is designed to find and study the exoplanets closest to Earth. Kepler performed what astronomers call a deep, narrow survey of the heavens; it peered at a small segment of sky, at stars between several hundred and several thousand light years away. TESS's survey, in contrast, will be broad and shallow. It's designed to survey 85 percent of the sky—an area 400 times larger than the one monitored by Kepler—with four wide-field 16.8-megapixel optical cameras.
TESS will scan most of the sky for the roughly 200,000 brightest, closest stars; any planets it identifies will be between just 10 and 300 light years from Earth. It will cover the southern hemisphere its first year in operation and the northern hemisphere during its second. TESS team expect to catalog some 20,000 new exoplanet candidates. They anticipate 500 of those will have radii less than twice that of Earth's—small enough, astronomers suspect, to be rocky, yet big enough to harbor an atmosphere.
To be our second home in the future... .
Video and images from @nasa and NASA TESS website. Text from Wired.com.
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