The space agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will collaborate with the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), the teams announced on Wednesday.
“It’s exciting that the world’s most powerful SETI search, with our partner facilities across the globe, will be collaborating with the TESS team and our most capable planet-hunting machine,” Pete Worden, executive director of Breakthrough Initiatives, a program that includes the Breakthrough Listen project, said in a statement.
TESS launched in April 2018 with a mission to find alien planets that could be circling nearby stars.
Breakthrough Listen, a scientific program in search for evidence of technological life, hopes to survey a million nearby stars, the entire galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies.
Artist’s illustration of HD 21749c, the first Earth-size planet found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite, as well as its sibling, HD 21749b, a warm sub-Neptune-sized world.
(Robin Dienel, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science)
“We are very enthusiastic about joining the Breakthrough Listen SETI search,” TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “Out of all the exoplanet endeavors, only SETI holds the promise for identifying signs of intelligent life.”
Team members of TESS have reportedly said that it will likely find up to 10,000 or more new exoplanets over the course of its two-year mission.
“We’re looking forward to working together as we try to answer one of the most profound questions about our place in the universe: Are we alone?” Worden said.