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Mission Looking for Earth-like Planets Focus of Santa Monica College Planetarium Show

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By Lookout Staff

January 26, 2018 -- If there are any planets that could sustain life forms, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) scheduled to be launched in March will be looking for them.

The mission is the focus of “The TESS Mission: Exoplanet Targets for Webb” on February 2 and 16 at the Santa Monica College John Drescher Planetarium.

"TESS will search the near-solar neighborhood of over 200,000 stars for planets crossing between TESS and the parent star, making it possible to target those newly discovered planets for more information from the James Webb Space Telescope," planetarium officials said.

Rendering of Tess Satellite
Rendering of Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) (Courtesy MIT)

During its first two years, the mission will focus on several hundred thousand chosen stars, looking for small "dips" in their light caused by orbiting planets, NASA said.

In addition to everything from small, rocky planets to gas giants, TESS is expected to find more than 5,000 possible "exoplanets" orbiting stars beyond our solar system, including 50 the size of earth.

TESS is the "first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey," Planetarium officials said. "No ground-based survey can achieve this feat."

On February 23, the planetarium will train its lens on the moon for a special observing event titled “8-Day-Old Moon: Lunar Apennines, Alps, and the Straight Wall!”

The event offers an opportunity "to look at an 8-day-old waxing gibbous Moon and its Apennines and Alps and 'Straight Wall' -- along with the beautiful Pleiades star cluster -- through a variety of telescopes, with guidance from the planetarium’s director," organizers said.

The evening events are held on Friday evenings at 8 p.m. and are preceded by
"The Night Sky Show"? at 7 p.m., offering the latest news in astronomy and space
exploration, a family-friendly "tour"? of the constellations, and the chance to
ask astronomy-related questions.

The John Drescher Planetarium, which features a Digistar projection system,
is located near the elevators on the second floor of Drescher Hall, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

Tickets are available at the door and cost $11 ($9 seniors and children) for
the evening's scheduled "double bill," or $6 ($5 seniors age 60 and older and children age 12 and under) for a single show or telescope-viewing session.

For more information call (310) 434-3005 or visit
All shows are subject to change or cancellation without notice.


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