NASA, SpaceX set to launch planet-hunting satellite

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NASA is all set to launch its next hunt for planets outside our solar system as preparations get underway for the launch of the TESS satellite, which will be carried into space in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday morning.

By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS may enable future breakthroughs, he said. The TESS launch overview will begin at 11:00 followed by the prelaunch news conference at 13:30 EDT, a science news conference from 15:00 EDT and then live coverage from the countdown will run from 18:00 to 20:00. Falcon 9 first stages perform engine maneuvers in space that send them back to Earth, where they can land on an offshore drone ship or landing pads near their launch sites.

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. These events are called transits, hence TESS' name. The spacecraft is expected to identify thousands of planets orbiting nearby stars. The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come. This is the first time that humans have used an orbiting surveyor to search almost the entire sky for new planets, compared to previous efforts that have scanned just a tiny percentage of what we can see.

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

NASA says TESS could help answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? "TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions".