NASA has announced that they will be working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to launch a mission that will involve searching for life on distant planets in 2017. The spacecraft that will be used for this mission is called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and will be equipped with several different telescopes to survey the area. The TESS will observe different types of planets and collect data regarding the planet’s surface and atmosphere. The TESS will have the capability of scanning large portions of the sky and its ultimate goal is to identify planets that could be capable of hosting life on them.
Senior Research Scientist George Ricker will lead the mission, in large part because his team at MIT has developed several innovations over the last few years, some of which will be used when TESS is launched in 2017. This mission will be an extension of the Kepler mission, which was successful in collecting data on thousands of planets and reaffirming assumptions that the universe is composed of a wide variety of planets with different sizes and compositions. The announcement of the 2017 mission was greeted with support, but critics are concerned about the price of this mission which could be around $200 million. NASA defended its decision by pointing out the sucess of the Kepler Space Telescope that made numerous important discoveries.
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