Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft set for launch in Florida

NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft set for launch in Florida

The launch is scheduled for 18.32 EDT, however, if weather conditions are unfavorable or there are technical glitches, SpaceX could delay proceedings until 18.13 on Tuesday.

The Launch team of the TESS is standing down in order to run a test involving the guidance navigation system and control analysis of the rocket.

TESS will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Nasa stated in a website release. NASA stated that spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that will allow it to study almost the entire sky over two years.

NASA is now targeting Wednesday for the launch of its next planet-hunting mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or Tess.

It is said that once TESS takes off, it will arrive in the orbit of the earth and will move in the highly elliptical path which will bring it closer to the moon. The mission is expected to catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets.

NASA thinks that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets with over 50 of them being Earth-sized planets.

The postponement was announced about two hours before the planned blast off from a NASA launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Meanwhile, SpaceX will stay busy with some important launches like the debut of its "Block 5" Falcon 9 rocket.

"Fifty, sixty, 100 years from now, you could use those same techniques to thoroughly explore the solar neighborhood", said MIT's George Ricker, principal investigator for the TESS mission.

The spacecraft is meant to be maneuvered into an unusual Earth orbit that ranges in altitude from roughly 63,000 to 200,000 miles.

SpaceX will feel vindicated following a recent investigation finding it devoid of blame in the loss of the secret Zuma satellite in January, but NASA scientists will still be feeling slightly anxious with the launch of TESS.

And because the planets circling them are bigger relative to the size of the star, and orbit at a closer distance, the slight disruptions of visible light from their transits are more pronounced, scientists said. This allows for newly detected planets and their atmospheres to be characterized more easily.

By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS may enable future breakthroughs, he said.

Kepler, Boyd said, was created to answer one question: how common are Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars.

The first data from TESS is expected to be made public in July, and NASA says citizen astronomers are welcome to help study the planets.

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