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Waspie_Dwarf

New Mission Chooses the ‘Just-Right’ Orbit

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New Explorer Mission Chooses the ‘Just-Right’ Orbit

Principal Investigator George Ricker likes to call it the "Goldilocks orbit" — it’s not too close to Earth and her Moon, and it’s not too far. In fact, it’s just right.

And as a result of this never-before-used orbit — advanced and fine-tuned by NASA engineers and other members of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) team — the Explorer mission led by Ricker will be perfectly positioned to map the locations of more than 500 transiting exoplanets, extrasolar planets that periodically eclipse each one’s host star. When the two-year mission begins in the 2017-2018 timeframe, it will represent the first time NASA has examined a large number of small planets around the brightest and closest stars in the sky.

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