NASA to launch its TESS Exoplanet Mission in a SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceX plans to open up shop at the Port of Los Angeles where it'll work on research design and development of its Mars rocket

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will launch onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Therefore the follow-up instrument to Kepler, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has been created to observe the entire sky, and optimized to find stars 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler could study. The satellite is not specifically meant to look for planets that can support life, but it can find planets orbiting in the habitable zone of small stars, said Seager, who serves as a deputy science director on TESS.

Based on Kepler's statistics, the science team expects to detect more than 1,500 transiting exoplanet candidates over the course of a two-year primary mission, including roughly 500 Earth-sized and "Super Earth" planets.

Tess will prowl for planets around the closest, brightest stars, eventually becoming prime targets for future telescopes looking for any signs of life.

On Monday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch NASA's alien planet-hunting telescope TESS to orbit.

A SpaceX rocket was originally scheduled to blast off with Tess at 4:32 p.m. MT on Monday.

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Life might be out there, whether microbial or more advanced, and scientists say Tess and later missions will help answer the age-old question of whether we're alone. It was in 1992 that the first two exoplanets were discovered orbiting a pulsar-a rapidly rotating neutron star-2,300 light years from Earth. They will also be able to parse out some important details about each new planet, like its size and how it orbits its star.

"TESS is created to image nearly all of the night sky - using four wide-angle cameras", Natalia Guerrero, an MIT scientist and researcher on the TESS mission, told UPI last week.

"It really has a chance to find a rocky planet, that's the right distance from its star, the right temperature to have life on its surface". There are far more planets in the Milky Way than there are stars.

"We're going to look at every single one of those stars", said the mission's chief scientist George Ricker of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"To get into this orbit, TESS will make a series of loops culminating in a lunar gravity assist, which will give it the final push it needs". "Oxygen is our best biosignature gas on Earth", Seager said, so we're looking for what we know.

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