In a bid to understand and discover the presence of extra-terrestrial life, NASA has put to use the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which explores stars which are in proximity to the Sun in search for alien life. The Satellite started gathering scientific data from July 25, according to the team manning the instrument. The initial data will be received by the Earth, come August, with each new observation or find arriving subsequently at a constant interval of 13.5 days, according to the team’s statement.
The initial launch of the satellite was April 18, when it orbited around the Earth, and underwent further testing for ensuring the readiness of the instrument. The first photo, which was test image, was sent by it in May, which showed around 200 thousand individual stars, with a high possibility of many being accompanied by minimum one planet. The satellite follows the iconic NASA Kepler Telescope’s footsteps, which has been successfully able to identify 2,650 exoplanets, over two missions. Similar to Kepler, the TESS will observe tiny drops in brightness of the individual stars, due to passage of planet between the star and its satellite. However, unlike Kepler, the scope of TESS would be larger, with plans for it to observe the entire sky in the planned two years of its mission, studying almost 200 thousand stars, with the instrument team expecting a discovery of around 1,600 exoplanets, with some being of similar size to Earth. Some of these planets will be further studied by the James Webb Space Telescope, the much-delayed NASA project.
Meanwhile, the severe wildfire that has gripped the United States west coast have been snapped in satellite photos. Images captured by NASA’s Terra satellite pointed out more than 12 individual fire incidents in the West Coast locations such as Oregon, California, Idaho and Nevada. Terra, which launched in Earth’s orbit in December 1999, gathered this data using the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), which identifies actively burning areas through its thermal bands, has previously been of great help to both researchers in their study, and emergency response crews in dealing with such wildfires.