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Next Planet-Hunting Mission Of NASA Postponed

Launch of NASA's next planet-hunting mission is postponed

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NASA's Noise-Reduction Tech to Make Quieter Airports a Reality. Pixabay
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 NASA is now targeting Wednesday for the launch of its next planet-hunting mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or Tess.

The spacecraft was earlier scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday (4.02 a.m. on Tuesday, India time).

“Standing down today to conduct additional GNC (guidance, navigation and control) analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of @NASA_TESS on Wednesday, April 18,” SpaceX said in a tweet on Monday .

NASA in a blog post said that the Tess spacecraft is in excellent health, and remains ready for launch.

The image of spacecraft
Spacecraft’s image. Pixabay

Tess is NASA’s next step in the search for exoplanets, including those that could support life.

Once in orbit, Tess will spend about two years surveying 200,000 of the brightest stars near the Sun to search for planets outside our solar system.

It will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies, including the potential to assess their capacity to harbour life.

With the help of a gravitational assist from the Moon, the spacecraft will settle into a 13.7-day orbit around Earth, NASA said in an earlier statement.

Sixty days after the launch and following tests of its instruments, the satellite will begin its initial two-year mission. Four wide-field cameras will give Tess a field-of-view that covers 85 per cent of our entire sky.

Within this vast visual perspective, the sky has been divided into 26 sectors that Tess will observe one by one.

Also Read: Why NASA sent human sperm to space?

The first year of observations will map the 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky, and the second year will map the 13 sectors of the northern sky.

The spacecraft will be looking for a phenomenon known as a transit, where a planet passes in front of its star, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness.

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft used the same method to spot more than 2,600 confirmed exoplanets, most of them orbiting faint stars 300 to 3,000 light-years away.  IANS

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NASA: No contact Made With Storm-Hit Mars Rover, Till Now

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover's batteries.

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NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18. Flickr

 NASA is yet to make contact with its Mars Opportunity Rover ever since a massive storm started on the Red Planet in June.

Based on the longevity of a 2001 global storm, NASA scientists estimate it may be September before the haze has cleared enough for Opportunity to power up and call home, the US space agency said this week.

Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30. By June 20, it had gone global.

For the Opportunity rover, that meant a sudden drop in visibility from a clear, sunny day to that of an overcast one.

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover’s batteries.

NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18.

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The nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling. Pixabay

Luckily, all that dust acts as an atmospheric insulator, keeping nighttime temperatures from dropping down to lower than what Opportunity can handle.

But the nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling.

When the skies begin to clear, Opportunity’s solar panels may be covered by a fine film of dust. That could delay a recovery of the rover as it gathers energy to recharge its batteries. A gust of wind would help, but is not a requirement for a full recovery, NASA said.

While the Opportunity team waits in earnest to hear from the rover, scientists on other Mars missions have gotten a rare chance to study this storm.

Also Read-Survival Of Mars Rover Is Under Threat Due To A sandstorm

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Odyssey, and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiters are all tailoring their observations of the Red Planet to study this global storm and learn more about Mars’ weather patterns.

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover is studying the dust storm from the Martian surface, the US space agency added. (IANS)

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