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NASA launches a telescope to search for aliens

16.04.2018
Science, Space, USA

On Monday, April 16, NASA will launch the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) orbiting observatory, designed to search for potentially inhabited planets from distant stars.
Modern equipment can not directly see planets that are outside the solar system. Therefore, they are detected by indirect signs - when a planet, revolving around its star, is between it and the observers on Earth, it obscures part of the star, so the brightness of the star temporarily falls.

Similar searches are also conducted from the Earth, but because of the presence of the atmosphere, terrestrial telescopes can fix the drop in the brightness of stars by only 1% - such a drop gives only large planets comparable in size to Jupiter or Saturn. Small planets reduce the brightness of mother stars by hundredths of a percent - this change can be fixed only from outer space.

The main task of TESS is to search for small planets that are in the so-called "zone of life" - not too far away, but not too close to their stars, so that the temperature conditions allow the existence of liquid water.

Observatory in total will study 200 thousand of the brightest stars. Observation of a single section of the sky will last 30 days - thus, TESS will be able to detect planets with a short period of circulation, which during this time will pass through the disk of their stars more than once.

The TESS mission is actually a preparation for putting into orbit the telescope "James Webb", which is planned for 2020. The "James Webb" will have a number of tasks, and one of them will be studying the atmospheres of exoplanets.

It is assumed that two years before the launch of James Webb using TESS, NASA astronomers will accumulate enough data about potentially inhabited exoplanets. In this case, immediately after the launch, James Webb will be able to begin studying their atmosphere.

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