SpaceX rocket booster lands on floating platform

Doug Carpenter
April 19, 2018

Hawthorne-based SpaceX will begin a live stream before the launch, which is scheduled for 3:51 p.m. The Transitioning Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is created to search the stars for other planets outside our solar system, and it's equipped with new tech in order for it to be able to detect relatively small planets orbiting other suns. The rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and its first stage will attempt to land on one of SpaceX's drone ships. Repeated dips would indicate a planet passing in front of its star. Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star in any solar system other than the one Earth calls home.

This mission's navigation includes getting the satellite close to the Moon, so it can slingshot around and enter an elliptical orbit.

TESS will focus on 200,000 pre-selected stars that are relatively nearby and among the brightest as seen from Earth, making them better-suited for sensitive follow-up analysis.

NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that TESS will scan almost the entire sky for alien worlds.

"Our planet-hunting NASA TESS spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that'll allow it to study the entire sky for over two years", NASA said on Twitter. That's why NASA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and and other collaborators are targeting stars within hundreds or, at most, thousands of light-years: It will make the detailed searches yet to come that much easier.

The satellite is said to be a discovery machine through which a large number of exoplanets are expected to be discovered. "This special orbit is key in potentially finding thousands of new planets outside our solar system".

TESS will build upon the legacy of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009 and has since identified more than 2,300 confirmed exoplanets.

ALIEN LIFE: Tess has no instruments capable of detecting life.

The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere - all clues to habitability. Giant telescopes still in construction or on the draw zing board also will lend a hand.

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