TESS – new satellite discovers new worlds.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched on 18 April on a mission to survey stars and discover thousands of new worlds beyond our solar system. TESS now takes over from Kepler – the previous satellite. This space telescope, equipped with four cameras, will scan almost the entire sky for at least two years, focusing its objectives on the nearest and brightest stars. Thus 85% of the sky will be photographed and analysed. Its goal is to find and identify exoplanets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. Hundreds of thousands of stars will be scanned, with the hope that many exoplanets will be revealed in our cosmic backyard. The primary goal of the mission is to detect small planets in the solar region, so that detailed accounts of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed.
“The sky will become more beautiful, more impressive. We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbour life,” notes NASA’s highest scientific administrator, Thomas Zurbuchen. The discoveries of TESS and other missions, he said, will bring us closer to answering the questions we have been asking ourselves for thousands of years: does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? If so, is this life microbial, or more advanced? Once TESS has identified new planets, terrestrial and space telescopes will be able to study them more accurately. Before the Kepler telescope was launched, no one knew if exoplanets were rare or numerous in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the scientific community, we now know that they could outnumber the stars. Now imagine the possibilities that TESS opens.
On 18th of April, TESS sent back its first stunning test image – a swathe of the southern sky, captured by one of the four cameras, with more than 200 000 bright stars of our galaxy. TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times the amount of sky shown in this image when using all four of its cameras during science operations.
As regards the EU’s competence in space, it was established by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 189 TFEU). There are some systems which the European Union is using for the benefit of EU citizens. For example, Copernicus, the European system for observing our planet and its environment, keeping an eye on the atmosphere, climate change, emergencies and civil security. Another system is Galileo, Europe’s own navigation satellite system. It consists of 30 satellites, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.The first European satellite-based augmentation system is EGNOS, it stands for European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which is used to improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs), such as GPS and Galileo.
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1) Claire Saravia (2018) NASA’s New Planet Hunter Snaps Initial Test Image, Swings by Moon Toward Final Orbit
Available at : https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/nasa-s-new-planet-hunter-snaps-initial-test-image-swings-by-moon-toward-final-orbit
2) ‘Out of this world: three things to know about Europe’s space policy’
Available at : http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/security/20160606STO30624/out-of-this-world-three-things-to-know-about-europe-s-space-policy
3) ‘Andrew Griffin, TESS is expected to find thousand of alien world’
Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/nasa-stars-picture-planet-hunting-best-images-tess-exoplanet-latest-a8361436.html
4) ‘Galileo is the European global satellite-based navigation system’
Available at: https://www.gsa.europa.eu/european-gnss/galileo/galileo-european-global-satellite-based-navigation-system
5) ‘The Search for Life and Exoplanets’
Available at : https://www.nasa.gov/tess-transiting-exoplanet-survey-satellite/
6) ‘What is Egnos?’
Available at : https://www.gsa.europa.eu/egnos/what-egnos
Written by Krystina Garibyan – Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a BA in Information and Communication in University of Nice. She speaks English, Russian, French and Spanish.