Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite orbits, illustration

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite orbits, illustration

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Credit: RAMON ANDRADE 3DCIENCIA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) orbits, illustration. This satellite is NASA's next step in the search for planets outside the solar system, also known as exoplanets. TESS launched from Earth (centre) on 18 April 2018 (initial green loops), reaching the Moon (upper right) on 18 May. Using a gravity assist manoeuvre (yellow loop), it was placed in a highly elliptical lunar resonant orbit (P/2, red loops) to carry out its all-sky survey. The orbital manoeuvres took around 60 days. The satellite's operations began in June 2018, using four cameras to measure the intensity changes in the brightness of the closest stars to Earth as they are transited by possible exoplanets. The Moon's orbit around the Earth is the large white circle.

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