SpaceX has successfully launched the successor

Apr

19

2018

SpaceX has successfully launched the successor to Kepler Space Telescope
SpaceX launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite on Thursday night with a Falcon 9 rocket. This new NASA space telescope has been successfully decoupled and is expected to discover far more exoplanets than the Kepler space telescope.

SpaceX has confirmed that TESS has been successfully decoupled to achieve the desired elliptical orbit around the earth. The disconnection occurred about fifty minutes after the launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The first rocket stage of the rocket has successfully landed on a drone ship.

At this launch, SpaceX has made no attempt to catch the fairing of the rocket, in fact the nose cone where the cargo is transported, with a ship. The plan was instead to halt both halves with parachutes when they returned to earth and let them ‘land’ in the ocean, in order to be able to recover them. It is not yet clear how this has gone. SpaceX has previously allowed halves of the fairing to remain completely intact in the ocean.

TESS is a lot lighter than the more than one tonne Kepler and weighs 350 kg. The big difference with Kepler is the much larger area that will map the new telescope. Kepler mainly focused on a relatively limited part of the space, with about 150,000 stars. In addition, TESS is about stars that are relatively close, at a maximum of three hundred light years from Earth.

Astronomers hope that as a result many new exoplanets will be discovered. This goes through the transit method, looking at a small dip in the brightness of stars that may indicate a planet passing by for the star. For this TESS is equipped with four wide-angle cameras, with which 85 percent of the space can be observed.

The new space telescope TESS is needed because the fuel of the Kepler telescope launched in 2009 is about to start. As a result, course corrections can no longer be made in the long run to keep Kepler in the required orbit around the earth. NASA expects TESS to be operational in about 60 days.

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