Date
25 April 2018
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft onboard, launches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on June 3, 2017. The US space agency’s TESS mission is set for launch on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral on Monday. Pics: NASA via Reuters, Bloomberg
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft onboard, launches at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on June 3, 2017. The US space agency’s TESS mission is set for launch on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral on Monday. Pics: NASA via Reuters, Bloomberg

NASA, SpaceX set to launch planet-hunting satellite

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from a facility in Florida on Monday.

According to reports, the satellite, which is aimed at finding far-away planets that could potentially support life, will be launched at 6:32 pm US Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The satellite is tasked with “a mission to detect planets outside of our solar system”, NASA said on its website, referring to the so-called exoplanets.

TESS will be deployed into a very elliptical orbit about 48 minutes after launch, according to a SpaceX press release.

NASA’s new planet-hunting satellite will “discover new potential planets orbiting bright host stars relatively close to Earth,” said the company, which is controlled by billionaire US tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

This mission will take about two years.

TESS is expected to “catalog thousands of planet candidates” and hugely raise the existing number of “known exoplanets”, according to the NASA website.

The satellite will figure out “the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars”, providing future researchers with an exhaustive set of new targets for more follow-up studies, including the potential to determine “their capacity to harbor life”, the US space agency said.

On the NASA website, there will be a 30-minute show on Monday at 10 am EDT by the NASA EDGE team that will talk about the TESS spacecraft and the science of looking planets outside the solar system.

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JC/RC

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