Nasa lançará novo telescópio para buscar planetas parecidos com Terra

NASA lança telescópio para procurar planetas do tamanho da Terra

NASA lança telescópio para procurar planetas do tamanho da Terra

O lançamento do Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) está programado para as 22H32 GMT (19H32 horário de Brasília) pelo foguete Falcon 9 da Space X de Cape Canaveral, na Flórida, caso as condições meteorológicas sejam favoráveis.

O novo telescópio da NASA vai procurar planetas do tamanho da Terra que possam albergar alguma forma de vida.

O objetivo deste telescópio durante os próximo dois anos será analisar mais de 200.000 estrelas brilhantes que se encontram para lá do nosso sistema solar, em busca de sinais de planetas que circulem à volta de astros.

Como Kepler, o primeiro telescópio do gênero lançado em 2009 pela agência espacial americana, que será substituído, o TESS utiliza o método de trânsito, que pode detectar planetas quando eles passam em frente às suas estrelas e diminuem sua iluminação de maneira momentânea.

De acordo com a NASA, o TESS pode vir a descobrir cerca de 20.000 exoplanetas.

Estas oscilações permitem caracterizar detalhadamente as estrelas, como a sua massa, o diâmetro e a idade, conforme explicou anteriormente à Lusa o cientista, contemplado este ano com uma bolsa europeia Marie Curie no valor de 160 mil euros.

Dois meses após a colocação na órbita terrestre, e depois de testados os instrumentos, o satélite artificial começará a sua missão, que tem uma duração inicial de dois anos.

O astrofísico adiantou que a validação dos novos planetas extrassolares detetados será feita em terra com outros telescópios por outros investigadores, incluindo portugueses, do núcleo do Porto do Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, especialista neste tipo de planetas.

"TESS é uma ponte entre o que aprendemos dos exoplanetas e para onde nos dirigimos no futuro", disse Jeff Volosin, diretor do projeto no Goddard Spaceflight Center da Nasa.

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