NASA and SpaceX team up to launch a planet-hunting satellite

NASA’s new planet hunter launches this week to seek new worlds

NASA’s new planet hunter launches this week to seek new worlds

Therefore, the TESS launch has been postponed until tomorrow (April 18) at the earliest, as both NASA and SpaceX are working together to prepare the rocket for liftoff.

Since NASA's Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009, the space agency has found and confirmed a whopping 2343 new planets.

TESS will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as long as the weather is "favourable", on board at SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

In a tweet, the aerospace company said the team was standing down to run additional analyses on the guidance, navigation and control systems.

But the schedule was delayed from Monday evening to Wednesday, so we will see TESS launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, tomorrow.

TESS will survey the entire sky over the course of two years by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across. The sole objective of this satellite is to search and explore new planets in the solar system.

While the Kepler mission was considered a major success, NASA noted that most of the planets it recorded are those that orbit faint, faraway stars, making it hard to conduct follow-up observations. After the launch of the satellite, there will be a two-month testing before the real data starts flowing back to Earth from TESS. The planet-hunting spacecraft will use a special, highly-elliptical orbit, with a 2:1 lunar resonance, shows Spaceflight 101.

SpaceX will feel vindicated following a recent investigation finding it devoid of blame in the loss of the secret Zuma satellite in January, but NASA scientists will still be feeling slightly anxious with the launch of TESS.

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Surveying almost the entire sky, the minimum two-year mission expects to find some 20,000 so-called exoplanets around nearby, bright stars, ranging from rocky Earth-size planets to gas giants.

By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS may enable future breakthroughs, he said.

Astronomers in the future, including those working with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, are then expected to be able to study the atmospheres of numerous planets.

"Tess will tell us where and when to point", said Cheops' Esa project scientist, Kate Isaak.

There are many definitions of an Earth-like exoplanet.

TESS will look for dips in the visible light of stars for detecting exoplanets as they cross in front of stars along our line of sight to them.

But it will not be easy, and "we're going to need extremely large telescopes to start to really put the signatures of the atmospheres into perspective and search for life signs", she said. "Kepler was a statistical survey that looked at a small patch of sky for four years and taught us that Earths are everywhere".

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