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Live Stream Launch of NASA' TESS Planet Hunter Today

18 April 2018, 12:40 | Hattie Nash

Watch live as NASA's TESS exoplanet-hunting satellite launches into space

SpaceX Rocket Launching NASA's TESS Exoplanet Hunter Today Watch Live

TESS would take a different approach than NASA's groundbreaking Kepler Space Telescope, offering a new view of the planets orbiting other stars.

"Think of it as a phone book; you'll be able to look up the ones that interest you", said Sara Seager from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which leads the Tess project.

TESS is one of several important pieces of what NASA calls the "Exoplanet Missions", which got off the ground with the hugely successful Hubble Space Telescope.

TESS-a spacecraft roughly the size of a washing machine-will search nearby bright stars for signs of planets.

TESS is the first NASA spacecraft that SpaceX will launch that is created to peer deep into the cosmos.

These planets could be potential "Earth 2.0" candidates, meaning they could have life on them.

The launch of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) stands postponed, with the space administration and SpaceX now working towards a targeted launch on April 18, 2018. Repetitive, periodic dips can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star.

TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone.

"We're expecting to find 2,000-3,000 planets that are certainly below the size of our Jupiter and majority below the size of Neptune; so, the ones that have the potential for being terrestrial, for being rocky", said Jennifer Burt from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which leads the mission.

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"That is about 20 times what the Kepler mission was able to detect".

The satellite known as Tess will survey nearly the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them.

"One of the numerous stunning things that Kepler let us know is that planets are all over the place and there is a wide range of planets out there".

"We might even find planets that orbit stars that we can even see with the naked eye", she added.

Like Kepler, TESS will serve as a planetary population census giving astronomers a better idea as to the origin and evolution of planetary systems - including our own. It's running out of fuel and probably has just a few months of life left, NASA officials have said.

"TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study", said Ricker.

With the help of a gravitational assist from the Moon, the spacecraft will settle into a 13.7-day orbit around Earth, NASA said in an earlier statement.

NASA scientists are also hosting a Reddit AMA over on r/science.

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