Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

NASA Delays the Launch Of Their Planet Hunting TESS Spacecraft

NASA Delays the Launch Of Their Planet Hunting TESS Spacecraft

Plus, SpaceX will try to land Falcon 9's first stage on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean, which is always a dramatic event to watch.

SpaceX tweeted earlier tonight that the launch has been delayed to a rocket issue and what SpaceX called "additional GNC analysis". SpaceX did not elaborate about testing to be done.

At the moment when NASA's newest planet hunter launches, scheduled for Monday evening, astronomers will know of almost 4,000 alien worlds outside our solar system.

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What is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite?

The much-anticipated launch of NASA's newest exoplanet hunter has been rescheduled, the USA space agency announced in a brief news release.

TESS's prime mission is to survey up to 200,000 stars for a period of two years, with the goal of finding potential exoplanets that might be orbiting them. "Looking at how long it takes a planet to orbit its star, scientists are able to determine the shape of the planet's orbit and how long it takes the planet to circle its sun".

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral air force Station in Florida at 8:30am AEST.

At a total cost of $337 million, the washing-machine-size spacecraft is built to search the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming.

TESS will look for dips in the visible light of stars for detecting exoplanets as they cross in front of stars along our line of sight to them. It also used the "transit technique" to confirm more than 2,000 so-called exoplanets.

"But it's not just quantity; it's quality as well - because the planets we do find will be bright enough and close enough to Earth that we really can do follow-up measurements with them".

SpaceX stated that TESS will be launched into elliptical orbit approximately 48 minutes after launch. It is created to look stars of all ages and sizes within a few hundred light-years of Earth, and it will be able to canvass the entire sky in just two years.

But even if TESS doesn't immediately find possible homes for alien life, it will essentially conduct a census of our galactic neighbourhood, offering other insights into planets and solar systems.

"TESS is very much a trash-treasure sort of mission", said Natalia Guerrero, deputy manager for the TESS Objects of Interest team.

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