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NASA will soon launch satellite to search for new planets

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Space exploration is never ending. Every single day it seems new things are being discovered. NASA is launching a satellite specifically designed to discover new planets Monday.

It's called the ,'Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite,' or TESS for short. NASA scientist Dr. Joshua Schlieder told News 4, “The goal of the TESS mission is to do a survey of the entire sky and observe the closest and brightest stars to the sun in order to detect exoplanets orbiting around them.”

Exoplanets are planets that orbits around a star outside of our solar system.  In the past, NASA has discovered thousands of these exoplanets, even finding ones that could support life and that is what they hope to find this time around too.

Schlieder said, “Were interested in finding planets that are small like the earth.

That orbit at a distance from their host star where the temp is just right for liquid water to exist on the surface. We call this the habitable zone.”

The goal within this two-year mission is to discover thousands more. Once the location is tracked down of each new planet, they plan to send other instruments to that location so they can further research if life could be supported there. Schlieder explained how they will do so.

He said, “TESS will do this is by using the transit method. Looking for very small changes in brightness as the plant crosses in front of the host star. We can understand how large the planet is and how far it orbits from its start to understand the context of the earth against all the other planets in the galaxy.”

TESS will be able to see planets that are very far away and put out very little light. This will have a big impact on future studies. Schlieder shared, “This will allow us to put out earth and solar system in context with other stars and begin to understand is the earth unique, is our solar system unique, and if so why?”

NASA doesn't think that is the case. They are hoping by completing this "sky survey" they will find something similar to the place we all call home and the odds look good.

He said, “Our galaxy is full of stars, about 100 billion other stars, and if each one hosts planets, and 1/5 are small like earth that means there are 20 billion possibilities for life to exist outside of our solar system and potentially develop into something intelligent.”

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