New TESS planet finder has been set on planet hunting mission and will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants.
The TESS will replace the aging Kepler spacecraft which fuel reserves run low after its nine year mission. The new TESS was launched on 18 April 2018 at Cape Canaveral in Florida/USA on board a SpaceX "Falcon 9"-rocket.
"TESS" is an acronym for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
The new satellite has been sent on a mission to explore the exoplanets that can be seen revolving around nearby bright stars.
"TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits." (NASA)
The two-year TESS mission will cost about 200 million US dollar. The TESS telescope is roughly as big as a fridge and has four cameras! TESS stars will be 30-100 times brighter than those surveyed by the Kepler satellite and will thus provide better insights for further research.
The previous Kepler mission provided ground-breaking new insights into the population of exoplanets in our galaxies. It was discovered that most exoplanets are Earths and Super-Earths. However, the majority of exoplanets found by Kepler orbit faraway as faint stars. The Kepler telescope was named after German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).