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.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is expected to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:32 pm Eastern Time which is 4:02 am (Tuesday) in India.
The launch will be broadcast on NASA website or on its live YouTube stream which you will find below.
According to a report by Space.com, NASA's current exoplanet hunting observatory named Kepler, has almost exhausted its fuel supply, requiring NASA to put TESS into orbit to continue research.
As SpaceX attempts to do with most of its Falcon 9 rockets, eight minutes after the launch, it will attempt to land the rocket’s first stage on a ship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster from the rocket can then be reused in a future mission.
Expecting the mission to span a minimum of two years, NASA expects TESS to survey 2,00,000 of the brightest stars outside our solar system to search for transiting exoplanets. Once these exoplanets are detected, using the known planet size, orbit and mass, TESS and ground-based follow-up team will be able to determine the planets’ compositions. This will further reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something out of the ordinary.
According to NASA, the mission will produce a large catalogue of exoplanets and continue looking for signs of life in them. "TESS will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies, including the potential to assess their capacity to harbour life," states NASA describing its main objective.