The TESS telescope is in space
– News of April 18, 2018 –
Launch of the Tess Space Observatory by a Falcon 9 rocket. After an initial delay of 48 hours, the various phases of the flight went perfectly. It will now take a few weeks for Tess to start its operational mission. As a reminder, the 350kg small telescope has to discover exoplanets close to the Earth thanks to the transits method.
Despite the modest size and budget of Tess it is expected a harvest of several thousand new worlds and may be among them the first true exoterres.
For this reason the most promising planets discovered by Tess will be subject to additional observations by more capable tools such as the James Webb Space Telescope.
The launch of the TESS telescope is postponed
– News of April 17, 2018 –
The launch of the NASA TESS telescope was to take place yesterday, but it will take another 48 hours because of additional controls on the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the telescope. To be able to detect exoplanets, the TESS telescope will be placed in a rather unusual orbit, with an apogee at 400 000 kilometers. SpaceX never placed a payload to this orbit. The American company seems to need this delay to ensure the smooth running of the mission. SpaceX will retest on Wednesday.
Image by NASA (http://tess.gsfc.nasa.gov/documents/TESS-Litho.pdf) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons