Just over nine years ago, NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope, which has found over 2,600 confirmed alien worlds, and an even greater number of candidate worlds awaiting confirmation from other sources.
Fairly small as spacecraft go, the 362-kilogram, 1.2 metre by-1.5 metre TESS will ride a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The orbiter carries several instruments that record data on the moon and sent it back to Earth.
There are a few ways to tell if there are planets orbiting around a distant star.
"It packs a big punch, and that's the part that we're really excited about", Ricker said. Four wide-field cameras will give Tess a field-of-view that covers 85 per cent of our entire sky. The majority of stars in the TESS survey will be 300 light-years to 500 light-years away, according to Ricker. It is optimised to observe smaller, cooler stars that emit mostly red light. You can watch for a wobble in the star's light, caused as a planet drags the star around in a bit of a stellar dance.
"Why would our solar system be unique?"
The first year of observations will map the 13 sectors encompassing the southern sky, and the second year will map the 13 sectors of the northern sky.
The Kepler spacecraft stared at one patch of sky, looking at hundreds of thousands of stars for a slight wink when a planet passes in front of the star.
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We are continuing to follow this story and more details will be available throughout the day and during evening broadcasts.
Scientists speculate that the habitable or so-called Goldilocks zone - the hole from a star the place it's neither too scorching nor too chilly to assist life, nonetheless good with the potential for liquid water on the ground - should be rather a lot nearer to pink dwarfs than it is in our private photograph voltaic system.
Then, return on Monday, April 16, first at 10 a.m. EDT for a live 30 minute show NASA EDGE: TESS, which will discuss how the spacecraft will search for alien worlds, and then at 6 p.m. EDT for coverage of the 6:32 p.m. EDT launch.
That every one-important job might be left to Webb, the next-generation successor to the Hubble Home Telescope that's grounded until a minimal of 2020, and even larger observatories however to return.
If life, indeed, is detected out there - be it microscopic or some higher form - scientists like to think robotic explorers would be launched from Earth for closer inspections.
"For me, merely understanding they're there might be ample", Volosin said.