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SpaceX Launches NASA Satellite

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SpaceX launching a rocket.

SpaceX launching a rocket.

via Flickr

via Flickr

SpaceX launching a rocket.

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  On April, 18 at 3:51 p.m., NASA launched a planet seeking satellite into space with the Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch it. The satellite (TESS) was launched into space but took 48 minutes to get out of the Earth’s atmosphere. TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket, which has 9 engines that can generate over 1.8 million pounds of force through the vacuums of space. This rocket costs $62 million and is believed to be the key to let people live on other planets. The first of its kind, the Falcon 9 rocket, is an orbital class rocket that has the capability to flight.

   This launch came to days late due to the need for extra guidance, navigation, and control examination. As the rocket entered the lower dense layer of the atmosphere, the first stage fell off and landed on the deck of an offshore drone ship. By giving another cushion for SpaceX’s record, they successfully recovered 1 of these boosters. 12 have been recovered on land and 12 have been recovered on the decks of ships. The Falcon 9 helped the TESS go through the surface of Earth’s atmosphere and the TESS was able to stay in Earth’s orbit.

   The TESS is designed to measure and watch stars that are hundreds of millions of light-years away. While probing these stars, the TESS will look if the brightness of the star gets just the tiniest bit darker. If the planets pass stars that are close to it, this satellite will find out and measure how long it takes until the same planet crosses paths again at the same size ratio. This way, scientists can track the planet’s orbit time to measure how long its year is.

   By May 17, TESS will be within 5,000 miles of the moon and will be using its gravitational pull to have a 13.7-day orbit. Once it’s there, the TESS will use its four 16.8 megapixel cameras which are each equipped with the newest CCD detectors (charged-coupled device in where a light-sensitive circuit can display the data where each pixel is converted into a charge which relates to the color in the color spectrum) and stay up for a minimum of 2 years looking for planets moving in front of host stars. Astrophysicist Padi Boyd, the TESS deputy project scientist, told CBS that,“TESS is basically the discoverer, it’s going to find the really exciting planets that we can then follow up with powerful telescopes.” With those telescopes, scientists will look for tell signs that indicate what the elements of the planets are and what gases are in the planet’s atmosphere to see if they can sustain life.

   TESS might not be the key to finding life on exoplanets but it sure heads humans in the right direction. TESS can be upgraded for future rocket designs by using the Falcon Heavy instead which is a more powerful rocket. The main point of these missions is to answer the question, are we alone, or is there other life that has been supported by planets maybe millions of light years away.

 

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SpaceX Launches NASA Satellite