NASA launches satellite ‘TESS’ in hunt for exoplanets LAUNCH ACCOMPLISHED

Reblogged from Coel’s blog, where I commented: My own best bet for intelligent life elsewhere would be aroud a red dwarf. More of them, and far longer lifetimes. Our own Sun was nearly half way through its useful lifetime before earth had multicellular organisms. More also, at PhysOrg’s Are we alone? NASA’s new planet hunder aims to find out.

Update, launch delayed

Launch successful


With the launch of NASA’s TESS satellite due this very day, this is a popular-level account of TESS and exoplanet hunting that I wrote for The Conversation. Actually this is my version, prior to their editing.

at the stars in the night sky and wondered whether they are also orbited by planets; our generation is the first to find out the answer. We now know that nearly all stars have planets around them, and as our technology improves we keep finding more. NASA’s newest satellite, TESS (the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), scheduled for launch on Monday, will extend the hunt for small, rocky planets around nearby, bright stars.

NASA’s TESS planet hunter (artist’s impression)

We want to know how big such planets are, what orbits they are in, and how they formed and evolved. Do they have atmospheres, are they clear or cloudy, and what are they made…

View original post 801 more words

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on April 16, 2018, in Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I believe that the GAIA probe is due to release a lot of data this month. It may include data about exoplanets. I interests me because it will report on paralllaxes – direct distances – of a great number of stars more distant than 6000 light years.


  2. When I see science funding the search for exo-planets, that tells me that they don’t grasp the peril our own planet is in. Those impressive talents should be re-redirected towards a more important use, such as detecting incoming asteroids, or incoming nuclear missiles.

    Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a fine idea in theory, but at a time when modern civilization is racing in a chaotic pell mell fashion towards collapse, it’s a luxury we can’t afford.


  3. Phil Tanny, a good argument. One counterargument is that cosmic perspective is an antidote to the idiocy you so rightly deplore.


  4. Hi Paul, well, to bat the ball back across the net, the cosmic perspective doesn’t seem to be working that well for those funding and doing exo-planet research.

    But, perhaps I ask too much of scientists, who are after all human beings and not logic machines. As example, my endless typing on such subjects would reasonably be labeled just as frivolous as exo-planet research. And yet, seeing that, I push forward with typing anyway, because that’s what I was born to do. When I’m not yelling at scientists, I do get that when one’s passion for something is strong enough one doesn’t really have a choice.

    It’s taken me awhile to see this, but I’ve gradually come to understand that the reductionist nature of science is naturally going to attract the kind of person whose talent lies in burrowing deeply in to a narrow topic area. On average, generally speaking, those with this talent will likely be less interested in, perhaps less capable of, the sweeping big picture view perspectives.

    And so I’ve been exploring the world of professional philosophy lately, primarily on a blog of an academic philosophy association with thousands of professional members. They’ve been posting a couple times a day on their blog for two years. A Google search reveals that over that two year period this big pile of blog articles have referenced nuclear weapons twice.

    Point being, it’s not just scientists who are in effect fiddling while Rome burns.


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