NASA satellite to search for habitable planets

Watch live as NASA's TESS exoplanet-hunting satellite launches into space

Watch live as NASA's TESS exoplanet-hunting satellite launches into space

A private sector space transportation firm founded and run by Tesla's Elon Musk, SpaceX has conducted launches for NASA in the past as well.

TESS will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA stated that spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that will allow it to study almost the entire sky over two years.

NASA's latest satellite has an important mission: it will search exoplanets - meaning planets outside our solar system, and it will try to find those that are Earth-like and can support life. The satellite will fly with the Falcon for 44 minutes before being ejected on to a highly elliptical path around Earth. Talks About the Data Pipeline for the TESS Mission.

Once in orbit, the TESS satellite will stretch its solar panels and begin powering itself, and while the exact timeline of its scientific mission could vary depending on many factors, it should begin peering into the depths of space soon.

Last-minute delays for testing are not unusual for rocket launches.

Over the next two years, TESS will survey the sky, breaking it into 26 sections, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across, specficially looking for exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars.

The moon's position is relevant in the novel type of orbit NASA has chosen for the TESS satellite.

TESS has been created to hunt for exoplanets orbiting around stars in Earth's immediate neighbourhood. The first data from TESS is expected to be made public in July, and Nasa says citizen astronomers are welcome to help study the planets for signs of possible habitability.

With Kepler running low on fuel and nearing the finish of its life, TESS means to get the hunt while centering nearer, on planets handfuls to several light years away.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere - all clues to habitability. With Tess, "our planetary census is going to move in" closer to us, MIT researcher Jenn Burt said Sunday. Repetitive, periodic dips can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star. Kepler has found more than 2,300 confirmed exoplanets over its lifetime. "It's like we're making a treasure map", Guerrero 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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