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April 16-22, 2018 / Vol 37, No 16 / Hawai`i Island, USA

13 Apr 2018, 20:16 UTC
April 16-22, 2018 / Vol 37, No 16 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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TESS to Launch April 16 in Search of New Worlds

The next-gen exoplanet-hunting satellite by NASA, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is planned to launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral FL Space Launch Complex 40 on April 16 at 18:32. TESS is the first NASA Astrophysics satellite mission to launch with SpaceX. The craft will perform 2 months of maneuvering and at least 5 burns to place it in a lunar flyby orbit to achieve a final highly-elliptical HEO with a period of 13.65 days in 2:1 resonance with the Moon. TESS will monitor 500,000 stars in a 2-year survey of the solar neighborhood, searching for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Four wide-field charge couple device cameras each with 7 stacked lenses will help observe thousands of exoplanets and determine the mass, size, density and orbit. The spacecraft will have a launch mass of 350 kg. Its solar arrays will produce 390 watts of electricity, and it will communicate with Earth at 8 ground stations in USA once every 2 weeks at 100 mbps. Likely to run out of fuel within the next few months, the significant Kepler and K2 mission is now in campaign ...

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