Watch launch of TESS planet-hunting mission April 16

SpaceX and NASA TESS Launch: When It Starts and How to Watch

All Systems 'Go' For Launch of NASA Exoplanet Mission Monday

Planned for tomorrow, however, is a different launch - that of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft is estimated about $337 million and it is of a washing machine-sized spacecraft.

Instead of looking for faraway planets in a small patch of the sky, TESS will survey the whole sky - dividing it into 26 slabs.

TESS is an acronym for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the mission is set to catalogue thousands of planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets.

When the Kepler space telescope launched in 2009, scientists didn't know what fraction of stars hosted planets. TESS is also created to search planets that are orbiting nearby stars which are spread across the sky. The brainchild of former American President Dwight D. Eisenhower, NASA has led most of the USA's space exploration missions throughout the years and has been responsible for uncovering numerous Universe's greatest mysteries.

Ground-based telescopes and even the James Webb Space Telescope - expected to launch in 2020 - might be able to detect the atmospheres of exoplanets found by TESS when they do additional observations of those worlds.

According to the Elisha Quintana, who is the scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center told on Sunday that " They are going to be orbiting the nearest brightest stars". NASA says it expects to find over 3,000 candidates, "ranging from gas giants to small rocky planets", with roughly 500 "to be similar to Earth's size".

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They both work on the same principle, which is really quite simple: when a planet (or anything else) passes between us and a star (a "transit"), the brightness of that star temporarily dims. The research team claims that the inability to make space babies would endanger humankind in the likelihood that we have to leave our planet one day.

"It used to be a philosophical question but now we've developed the technology where it's a scientific question", said Batcheldor. But most of the time, we can't see them. TESS will survey the local neighborhood for planets like Earth.

We now know that almost all stars have planets around them, and as our technology improves we keep finding more.

While Kepler's planets could only be viewed by telescopes in the northern hemisphere, TESS will discover planets that can be seen in the southern hemisphere.

But if Kepler was a telephoto aimed at dim targets far in the distance, TESS is an ultra-wide-angle lens that will watch almost the entire visible sky.

So, how will TESS perform its alien planet hunt? The terms of the equation begin with the number of stars in our galaxy and proceed to the number of civilizations actively broadcasting their presence into space.

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