NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet

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NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS‘FortuneGet Ready For the Next Big Thing In NASA’s Search For Earth’s Twin‘NPRNASA spacecraft aims to put mystery planets on galactic map‘Washington PostNasa to launch Tess on hunt for 20000 new worlds‘The Guardian

NASA and SpaceX Are About to Launch Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

NASA and SpaceX are together launching a new satellite into space Monday, with the goal of finding other planets that can potentially support life.

The new spacecraft is called TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and is tasked with discovering “thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky,’ according to NASA’s website.

“To me, TESS represents the very first opportunity to really, truly make progress in this area of trying to find signs of life on other worlds,” MIT astrophysics professor Sara Seager told CNET in an interview. “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. Tess will find a pool of planets like that.”

TESS’s mission is to monitor and catalogue over 200,000 stars in space for signs of other existing planets. The spacecraft will scan our solar neighborhood looking for stars that exhibit “temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits,” which is a sign that a previously undiscovered planet may be crossing in front of a star, NASA’s website explains.

We're set to launch our new planet-hunting spacecraft, @NASA_TESS. Weather is 80% GO for Monday's 6:32pm ET launch. Get the latest updates leading to the liftoff of the mission: https://t.co/mpkAzeKJTJ pic.twitter.com/zd4I6rqiam

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Get Ready For the Next Big Thing In NASA’s Search For Earth’s Twin

An artist’s representation of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, observing an M dwarf star with orbiting planets. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center hide caption

If signs of life are found on a planet beyond our solar system sometime in the next decade, they’ll most likely be on a planet discovered by a NASA satellite that’s scheduled to launch on Monday.

The mission is called TESS, short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and it will spend two years scanning almost the entire sky to search for alien worlds.

Scientists already know of over 3,000 planets around distant stars, thanks in large part to a previous NASA mission called Kepler. It spent years staring at stars in a small patch of the sky to look for a tell-tale dimming that meant a planet had passed by and blocked some of the starlight.

The Kepler mission revealed that planets of all sorts of sizes are extremely common. “There are far more planets in the Milky Way than there are stars,” says MIT astronomer George Ricker, the principal investigator for TESS.

NASA spacecraft aims to put mystery planets on galactic map

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. ‘ Calling all planets that orbit around bright, nearby stars: NASA’s new Tess spacecraft is looking to do a head count.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ‘ Tess for short ‘ is embarking Monday on a two-year quest to find and identify mystery worlds thought to be lurking in our cosmic backyard. The spacecraft aims to add thousands of exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, to the galactic map for future study.

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 is very exciting. … By human nature, we look for exploration and adventure, and this is an opportunity to see what’s next,’ NASA’s Sandra Connelly, a science program director, said Sunday on the eve of launch.

Tess is flying on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to blast off at 6:32 p.m. Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Watching: SpaceX Are About, Launch Planet NASA, Fortune Get Ready For

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