SpaceX Falcon 9 Ready To Launch NASA's TESS Satellite From Cape Canaveral


Barely 2 hours before the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Monday carrying NASA's new space telescope created to detect worlds beyond our solar system, the planned launch had to be delayed for at least 48 hours due to a technical glitch.

"Launch teams are standing down today to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis".

For most of the stars observed by Tess, this special distance will be a short one.

Tune into NASA's TESS blog or at NASA TV from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight for live coverage and the countdown.

"We can start to find out, how does planet occurrence vary as a function of the type of star and the age of the star?"

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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. This is the first time that humans have used an orbiting surveyor to search almost the entire sky for new planets, compared to previous efforts that have scanned just a tiny percentage of what we can see.

The satellite's goal is to extend the successful mission of the Kepler Space Telescope by observing stars and monitoring them for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits.

The data will be collected during a two-year period in which TESS will survey the entire sky by breaking it into 26 equal sectors. The craft is set to sweep the sky as it orbits the earth for two years.

The moon's position is relevant in the novel type of orbit NASA has chosen for the TESS satellite. It will do this by monitoring more than 200,000 bright host stars.

Next, astronomers on Earth will measure the way the planet's gravity makes the star wobble as it orbits - an observation that will provide the planet's mass.

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"But it's not just quantity; it's quality as well - because the planets we do find will be bright enough and close enough to Earth that we really can do follow-up measurements with them".

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. Unlike stars that emit their own light or other waves, planets that revolve around stars move in the dark.

But in order to study planets, the JWST needs to know where they are and which may theoretically possess an atmosphere capable of sustaining life - they must not be too far or too close to their sun to have liquid water.

Technicians work on the TESS spacecraft before it is transported to Cape Canaveral, Fla. for launch.

"TESS is the first step", said Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist at Nasa's Goddard Spaceflight Centre.

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TESS's predecessor, the Kepler Space Telescope, also used the transit method to become the most prolific planet-hunter in history.