Nasa on planet-hunting mission

Nasa on planet-hunting mission

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Nasa predicts that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets - or planets outside the solar system - including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth.

In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits.

"Tess will find small planets, rocky planets that might have atmospheres and features that may be conducive to life", Buzasi said.

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The launch is now scheduled for Wednesday evening. Falcon 9 first stages perform engine maneuvers in space that send them back to Earth, where they can land on an offshore drone ship or landing pads near their launch sites.

Depending on available light, NASA can determine the size of the star as well as its planets and the length of orbits, which can give an indication of the planet's proximity to the star, which in turn can help experts determine the conditions on that planet and the chance of it supporting life. "We're going to be able study individual planets and start talking about the differences between planets".

"On average the stars that TESS observes are 30-100 times brighter and 10 times closer than the stars that Kepler focused on". 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. TESS will likely find exoplanets of a kind we've never seen before.

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