4 things you need to know about NASA's new planet-hunting satellite

Galtero Lara
Abril 17, 2018

The launch, which is now scheduled for Wednesday, will feature a brand new Falcon 9, as opposed to the used (sorry, "flight proven") rockets that the company sometimes uses after recovering and refurbishing them.

TESS will replace the NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which has discovered 2,650 alien worlds till now.

SpaceX postponed the launch of NASA's TESS spacecraft which was scheduled for taking off on Monday. NASA stated that spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that will allow it to study almost the entire sky over two years.

A NASA satellite scheduled to launch on Monday is part of the USA space agency's search for exoplanets, including ones that could support life. The satellite will fly with the Falcon for 44 minutes before being ejected on to a highly elliptical path around Earth.

NASA Planet Hunter, new planet-chasing mission, ready to dispatch Monday, intends to propel the look for extraterrestrial life by filtering the skies for close-by, Earth-like planets.

The postponement was announced about two hours before the planned blast off from a NASA launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX said extra time is needed to examine the Falcon 9 rocket's guidance, navigation and control system. Satellite maker Orbital ATK's Robert Lockwood said he expects Tess to take exoplanet discovery to a whole new level. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

Mission planners have designed a novel orbit that will see Tess corralled by the gravity of the Moon.

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The goal is to look for dips in the brightness of the stars that indicate orbiting planets.

But the goal is to identify stars hosting relatively small, rocky Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones of their suns at distances that allow water to exist as a liquid, a requirement for life as it is known on Earth.

Ricker and other scientists said the planetary catalog generated by TESS could well become the guidebook for that armada.

The spacecraft will spend the next two years observing 200,000 of the brightest points in the night's sky, with the NASA team hopeful that by the time the mission is over, it will have found 20,000 exoplanets, of which 500 might be Earth-sized.

Kepler, Boyd said, was created to answer one question: how common are Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.

There are many definitions of an Earth-like exoplanet.

"Kepler is what made us become aware that planets are as common as telephone poles", SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak told Space.com.

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