By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNASA will carefully use the new TESS satellite to keep an eye on 200,000 of the closest stars in the galaxy. "TESS itself will not be able to find life beyond Earth, but TESS will help us figure out where to point our larger telescopes in that search", Paul Hertz, head of the astrophysics division at NASA, said during a press conference on March 28. "Those small stars will produce the biggest signals, and we have to start somewhere", says Angus, who remains hopeful about what could be found. Other telescopes on the ground will have to make further observations, principally using what's known as the radial velocity method, which measures the degree of gravitational wobble a planet causes in its star.
"We just got done with our launch readiness review, and all went well", said Omar Baez, senior launch director for the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It's the beginning of a new era of exoplanet research. This allows for newly detected planets and their atmospheres to be characterized more easily. "Oxygen is our best biosignature gas on Earth", Seager said, so we're looking for what we know. Every time he approaches Earth, he will send scientists the information he has collected in the meantime. "One of the big surprises from Kepler was to find this whole population of planets with sizes between that of Neptune and Earth - and there aren't any in our solar system, zero - and they're everywhere out there", said Latham, who's worked on the Kepler project for almost 20 years.
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