SpaceX to launch a small planet hunter for NASA on Monday

Doris Richards
April 16, 2018

The mission is called TESS, short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and it will spend two years scanning nearly the entire sky to search for alien worlds.

"This special orbit is key in potentially finding thousands of new planets outside our solar system".

The NASA mission is expected to launch to orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:32 p.m. ET.

By studying objects much brighter than the Kepler targets, it's hoped TESS could uncover new clues on the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Kepler stared at 250,000 distant stars in a cross-shaped area equal to 0.25 percent of the sky, and identified the signatures of more than 5,000 confirmed planets and candidates.

There should be no issues with SpaceX being able to broadcast video from space as TESS is considered a public rather than commercial mission. The space telescope, whose launch is planned in 2020, will be studying so-called transitions - moments when planets pass "in front" of their suns (with respect to the telescope).

On Monday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch NASA's alien planet-hunting telescope TESS to orbit. "We expect TESS will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions, which hold potential clues to the presence of life, could be precisely measured by future observers". Kepler mostly firmed up the fraction of stars that have planets. Will we ever find it? A lot of follow-up work will go into determining whether these candidates are truly planets, rather than binary stars, artifacts in the data or something else. TESS will spend at least two years scrutinizing the entire sky for exoplanets - planets around other stars - within about 300 light years from here.

With Kepler running low on fuel and nearing the end of its life, TESS aims to pick up the search while focusing closer, on planets dozens to hundreds of light years away. "Oxygen is our best biosignature gas on Earth", Seager said, so we're looking for what we know.

From just that brightness data, TESS scientists will be able to differentiate between real planets and false signals like those caused by debris or instrument flukes.

ANGUS: There are certain conditions that we need for the life that we're familiar with. SpaceX indicated that the decision to skip a landing had to do with the fact that this particular Falcon 9 has already flown once before for another resupply mission to the space station in August.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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