SpaceX and NASA Delay Launch of Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

SpaceX and NASA Delay Launch of Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

TESS is the successor of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and it is created to scan the sky for exoplanets within 300 light-years of Earth.

The planets discovered by TESS will be different, as TESS will search for planets around closer, brighter stars. These events are called transits, hence TESS' name.

When the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite completes its mission two years from now, scientists expect, TESS will have increased that number by a factor of five.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.SpaceX/Flickr (public domain) SpaceX will broadcast live footage of TESS's launch, likely starting around 6:15 p.m. EDT, and you can watch that YouTube stream below.

It will stare at stars, hoping to catch the dip in brightness as their faces are traversed by orbiting worlds.

Unlike Kepler, which peered deep into a narrow stretch of sky to find faraway planets around stars like the sun, TESS's survey will be "wide and shallow", Ricker explained.

"We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye", she added.

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The ultimate goal is to find small, probably rocky planets orbiting in a sweet spot around stars that's not too hot, and not too cold.

TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone.

"TESS is very much a trash-treasure sort of mission", said Natalia Guerrero, deputy manager for the TESS Objects of Interest team.

Its powerful vision will have the capability to analyse the atmospheres of some of Tess's new worlds, to look for gases that might hint at the presence of life.

TESS will create a catalog of thousands of exoplanet candidates using this transit photometry method. These ground-based telescopes will collaborate with other ground-based telescopes to measure the masses of the planets.

"We're expecting to find 2,000-3,000 planets that are certainly below the size of our Jupiter and a lot of them below the size of Neptune; so, the ones that have the potential for being terrestrial, for being rocky", said Jennifer Burt from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which leads the mission. Additional follow-up with ground- and space-based missions, including NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, will also allow astronomers to study the atmospheres of many of these planets.

The national Board of the US on Aeronautics and research of space administration (NASA) launches orbiting Observatory TESS.

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