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Beyond Kepler: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Set For 2017 Launch 43

astroengine writes "NASA has selected a $200 million mission to carry out a full-sky survey for exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. The space observatory, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is scheduled for a 2017 launch. Like the currently operational Kepler Space Telescope, TESS will be in the lookout for exoplanets that orbit in front of their host stars, resulting in a slight dip in starlight. This dip is known as a "transit" and Kepler has revolutionized our understanding about planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy by applying this effective technique. As of January 2013, Kepler has spotted 2,740 exoplanetary candidates. "TESS will carry out the first space-borne all-sky transit survey, covering 400 times as much sky as any previous mission," said TESS lead scientist George Ricker, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. "It will identify thousands of new planets in the solar neighborhood, with a special focus on planets comparable in size to the Earth.""
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Beyond Kepler: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Set For 2017 Launch

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  • imagine (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by etash ( 1907284 )
    if half the budget the US spends for the military went towards space exploration
    • Dumping more money into a problem or idea doesn't automatically solve it. I'd say that NASA has a fair budget, and they always seem to get the money they need; especially if the idea is a well thought out one.
    • We'd be at least at Alpha Centauri, possibly further out by now. It's all a perfect example of opportunity cost. I'd much prefer we spend the money on space exploration and science in general than to perpetuate a military based on a war that no longer exists.
      • Re:imagine (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @07:18PM (#43386851) Homepage

        We'd be at least at Alpha Centauri, possibly further out by now.

        I like spending big money on space exploration as much as the next guy, but Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light-years away. If a mission to Alpha Centauri was launched in 1958 (the year NASA was created), it would have had to travel at an average speed of .078c in order to arrive this year.

        It's hard to imagine that we could have come up with technology capable of that, even if we spent our entire GDP on developing space technology.

        Mars, OTOH, or other locations in our own solar system, sure.

        • There are a number of projects currently underway, some NASA sponsored, some not that would do things that would increase the speed of spacecraft. On the more immediate front is the fusion drive that could get us to Mars in a bit over a month. On the more cutting edge is the FTL group at NASA working on WARP drive. They took the Alcubierre drive and determined you didn't need a reaction mass the size of say Jupiter but a more manageable ton or two.
  • by drwho ( 4190 )

    This is good, I think this is more interesting than looking at distant galaxies.

  • I'm a die-hard space buff, and love hearing about projects like these. The developed world is often in a good position that people tend to give funding (however marginal) towards enginerds that want to push the limits of what we know, and I'm glad that we're seeing some increased awareness with the Kepler project.

    I tried to explain to someone who was born after the trips to the moon (I am too) what the importance of space exploration is and how it benefits us all across the board, but he didn't personall
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Probably not, but the people who don't see further than their nose saying "How will this make MY life better?" to everything will say no to all basic science and plenty other subjects that don't result in any direct, tangible returns. When finally you have graphene transistors to make the iPhone 23GS then he'll care to spend money on it, but not today on what might possibly emerge as a technology in a decade or three. I don't know, maybe we find out something useful about our own planet by studying others l

    • Re:What's the use? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @06:06PM (#43386381)

      no, $200M is not a large amount of money; we spend billions to kill and maim innocents for power and wealth; and you're fixated on this chump change?

      "pursuing the sciences" has doubled human lifespan, raised the standard of living over the last four centuries, made possible global communication and the storage of mankind's accumulated knowledge. it's worth it.

      • Yes, but there are *countless* scientific endeavors that are always vying for funding. It's not the amount in question, but rather that these projects are evaluated for expected gain/return. One of the commenters remarked that press is a big return, and he's very right. What are some of the other intended/hoped for results with this project that got it funded over the others? That's the question I'm asking, and something I'd really love the answer to, because I'm curious what it is that scientists want to l
        • only the most important scientific discovery in the history of man might be found. Remember this project will be part of a *system* that will find earth-sized exoplanets and then determine atmospheric composition (in conjunction with other projects). Do you realize what free atmospheric oxygen would mean on a world in habitable zone? LIFE. And then suppose optical SETI or some other means found a signal from such a place. what do we want to learn from this indeed.

  • would be to develop a propulsion system capable of reaching these planets.
  • TFA says, 'This dip is known as a "transit"' but that's wrong. Transit [wikipedia.org] in this context refers to the exoplanet passing in front of the star. The dip in the star's brightness is caused by this, and is used to infer the passage.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In these days of very lean budgets, a bit of coordination between NASA and ESA would be appreciated.
    ESA announced a similar mission a while ago :

    We are also going to have TWO Mercury's orbiters : Messenger (NASA, in orbit now) and Bepi Colombo (ESA, to be launched).
    I mean, Mercury is interesting enough only for one orbiter, especially if there's no mission to the much more interesting Titan and

    For Mars, NASA withdrew from ESA's Exo Mars rover missio

  • TESS was competing w/ another exoplanet survey instrument:
    http://finesse.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

    Roughly the same amount of money, same launch date, different people working on it.

    Good luck to the TESS team, too bad it wasn't FINESSE.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong