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NASA’s New Planet-Hunting TESS Telescope Could Be Our Best Bet to Find Alien Life

NASA‘s newest telescope TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is the agency’s latest planet hunter, which will greatly expand on the work already done by the Kepler telescope. TESS will broaden our search for other worlds throughout the universe, and while finding mysterious, unknown planets will be exciting for its own reasons, this also means we could be one step closer to finding something even more exhilarating–aliens.

Set to launch today, April 16th, from Cape Canaveral in Florida, TESS’s four cameras–which can cover 85% of the sky–will scan more than half-a-million of the brightest stars outside our solar system in a quest to find new exoplanets. If it notices any decrease in a star’s brightness (“a phenomenon known as a transit”) it will be a sign a planet is orbiting it, which will then allow for further examination, especially by the James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2020. NASA says it expects to find over 3,000 candidates, “ranging from gas giants to small rocky planets,” with roughly 500 “to be similar to Earth’s size.”

“The stars TESS monitors will be 30-100 times brighter than those observed by Kepler, making follow-up observations much easier. Using TESS data, missions like the James Webb Space Telescope can determine specific characteristics of these planets, including whether they could support life.”

Just identifying other potential homes for us in the cosmos would be a huge achievement unto itself, and that’s what NASA is focused on. But we’re free to let our imaginations run wild, and that’s why it is what–or ratherĀ who–could already be out there that is even more exciting. Because with so many worlds waiting to be discovered, who knows if life is waiting on one of them, just hoping we finally point our cameras at them.

Do you think intelligent life is out there? Will we ever find it? Tell us why in the comments below.

Featured Image: Warner Bros.

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