ART HOBSON: TESS searches for signs of life

Satellite’s mission: Identify Earth-like candidates

Posted: May 8, 2018 at 1 a.m.

NASA's latest planet-hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS, rocketed into space on April 18. It will be two months before the refrigerator-sized satellite maneuvers into its unusual operating orbit, a highly elliptical path inside the moon's orbit that takes TESS twice around Earth every time the moon circles Earth. TESS passes the moon at the most distant point in TESS's orbit. The two-to-one orbital times ratio makes for stability because, if TESS drifts a little off-path, the moon will pull it back into synchronization on the next pass.

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