Sci-tech

NASA launched TESS, new planet-hunter to search Earth-like worlds

NASA launched TESS, new planet-hunter to search Earth-like worlds”

Nasa is pinning its hopes of finding undiscovered worlds that could support life on a pioneering robotic probe that will carry out the first space survey of its kind.

NASA reports that its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is scheduled to launch at 6:32 p.m. Monday, April 16 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Forecasters are setting the chances of acceptable weather at 80 percent, with strong winds listed as the main concern.

As SpaceX attempts to do with most of its Falcon 9 rockets, eight minutes after the launch, it will attempt to land the rocket's first stage on a ship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

The spacecraft, which is just a little smaller than a subcompact vehicle, will be maneuvered into an unusual Earth orbit that ranges in altitude from roughly 63,000 to 200,000 miles. TESS will scan nearly the entire sky, looking for telltale signs of planets around closer, brighter stars. Watch the launch live at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). It costs $ 337 million.

The worlds orbiting other stars are called "exoplanets", and they come in a wide variety of sizes, from gas giants larger than Jupiter to small, rocky planets about as big around as Earth or Mars.

The most common categories of exoplanets are Earth- and Super Earth-sized masses-the latter of which are larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus and Neptune.

TESS is expected to reveal 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets, NASA said. The satellite is not specifically meant to look for planets that can support life, but it can find planets orbiting in the habitable zone of small stars, said Seager, who serves as a deputy science director on TESS.

Life might be out there, whether microbial or more advanced, and scientists say Tess and later missions will help answer the age-old question of whether we're alone. This launch will be on a seven-year mission which aims at exploring the sun. Every time he approaches Earth, he will send scientists the information he has collected in the meantime.

There should be no issues with SpaceX being able to broadcast video from space as TESS is considered a public rather than commercial mission.

Knowing what we know today about what lies beyond our solar system, estimates that "thousands" exoplanets will be discovered by TESS seem conservative.



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