New Nasa mission searching for exoplanets which could harbour life

The JWST is currently being readied for launch. NASA  Chris Gunn

The JWST is currently being readied for launch. NASA Chris Gunn

Therefore, the TESS launch has been postponed until tomorrow (April 18) at the earliest, as both NASA and SpaceX are working together to prepare the rocket for liftoff.

NASA and SpaceX say they'll take more time to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey System, or TESS, just to make sure the $337 million mission will be on the right track to hunt for planets beyond our solar system.

A backup launch window at 2232 UTC was available today, but the team has elected to take some extra time to resolve the problem.

The TESS will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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Are we alone? Nasa's new planet-hunting mission, poised to launch on Monday, aims to advance the search for extraterrestrial life by scanning the skies for nearby, Earth-like planets.

After the launching of this satellite, TESS will use all its fuel to get to the Earth's orbit and then gravity from the Moon will do its job.

The two-year, $337 million TESS mission is created to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which has discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

The Tess mission will go up on a Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida and survey almost the entire sky over the course of the next two years.

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Over the next two years, TESS will survey the sky, breaking it into 26 sections, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across, specficially looking for exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars. No satellites have been put into this orbit thus far. This allows for newly detected planets and their atmospheres to be characterized more easily.

While TESS is fine-tuned to find Earth-size or slightly larger planets orbiting their stars in those close-in habitable zones it also will collect data about larger planets orbiting brighter stars.

Kepler, Boyd said, was created to answer one question: how common are Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars. "In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will search for tell-tale dips in the brightness of stars that indicate an orbiting planet regularly transiting across the face of its star". "TESS is kind of like a scout", said Natalia Guerrero, deputy manager of TESS Objects of Interest, an MIT-led effort that will catalogue objects captured in TESS data that may be potential exoplanets. "These types of planets that are close to us are much more easy to study, and we can measure their masses from telescopes here on Earth".

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