All creationists are horrified that today is the day the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launches its new planet finder. PhysOrg has an article about it: Are we alone? NASA’s new planet hunter aims to find out. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Are we alone? NASA’s new planet-hunting mission, poised to launch Monday, aims to advance the search for extraterrestrial life by scanning the skies for nearby, Earth-like planets. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is poised to blast off at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from a NASA launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
At a total cost of $337 million, the washing-machine-size spacecraft is built to search the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming. These so-called “transits” may mean that planets are in orbit around them. TESS is expected to reveal 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets, NASA said.
As you know, creationists believe that the Earth was recently created as the only world in existence, in the center of a rather limited universe, consisting of the Sun and the Moon above the flat Earth, with the stars as lights set in a presumably solid firmament rotating around us, just below the glorious realm of Yahweh. Well, many of them have, ah, evolved in their thinking to accept the actual shape of the Earth, and that it is but one of the planets orbiting the Sun. That’s as far as most are willing to go, but some even accept that other planetary systems have been found. However, they insist that there’s no life out there.
Okay, back to PhysOrg. They say:
NASA predicts that TESS could find more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of the Earth. TESS will survey far more cosmic terrain than its predecessor, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope which launched in 2009, taking in some 85 percent of the skies. “TESS is equipped with four very sensitive cameras that will be able to monitor nearly the entire sky,” said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “That is about 20 times what the Kepler mission was able to detect.”
Wowie! After that they tell us:
Kepler, the first planet-hunting mission of its kind, “was launched to answer one single question: How common is a planet like Earth around a star like the Sun?” said Patricia “Padi” Boyd, director of the TESS guest investigator program at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center.
“It was designed to look at 150,000 stars in a fairly wide field of view without blinking, for four years,” she told reporters on the eve of the launch. “One of the many amazing things that Kepler told us is that planets are everywhere and there are all kinds of planets out there.”
But TESS is different. Boyd explains:
“So TESS takes the next step. If planets are everywhere, then it is time for us to find the planets that are closest to us orbiting bright nearby stars, because these will be the touchstone system.”
TESS and Kepler use the same system of detecting planetary transits, or shadows cast as they pass in front of their star. While Kepler confirmed some 2,300 exoplanets and thousands more potential planet candidates, many were too distant and dim to be studied further. With Kepler running low on fuel and nearing the end of its life, TESS aims to pick up the search while focusing closer, on planets dozens to hundreds of light years away. “TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study,” said Ricker.
And TESS will make things even more uncomfortable for creationists. There’s more, but we’ve excerpted enough. You can read the rest for yourselves.
Meanwhile, at the NASA website, they have this: NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Planet-Hunting Mission, which says:
On a mission to detect planets outside of our solar system, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to launch no earlier than 6:32 p.m. EDT Monday, April 16. Prelaunch mission coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Sunday, April 15, with three live briefings.
This is the website for NASA Live, where they’re having live news conferences and the actual launch — scheduled for about three hours from now.
The real news will come later, when more planets are found — and the creationists continue to squirm. We’re looking forward to it.
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