Ten hours ago, NASA launched its planet-hunter TESS – the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
TESS is, simply speaking, a space telescope designed to search for planets outside our solar system (“exoplanets”). It is expected to find more than 20,000 exoplanets, compared to the about 3,800 exoplanets we know of today.
This is not Earth
Led by MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), with funding from Google among others, TESS will survey the brightest stars near the Earth for exoplanets over a two-year period. It uses an array of wide-field cameras to perform an all-sky survey and can define the mass, size, density and orbit of a large cohort of small planets, including which ones of them have water, shores and islands.
It gives quite a new meaning to Google Maps.