Elon Musk's space aspirations are focused on Mars, and now his rocket company is helping NASA scientists hunt for planets far beyond our own solar system. The lift-off window opens on Monday, 6:32 p.m. EDT, soon after which the payload will be positioned in orbit.
"On average the stars that TESS observes are 30-100 times brighter and 10 times closer than the stars that Kepler focused on".
Scientists expect Tess - the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, maybe even water worlds and places defying imagination. Scheduled for an April 2018 launch, the spacecraft will prowl for planets around the closest, brightest stars.
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Using balloons to salvage the upper stage would allow the aerospace firm to re-use the module on future missions.
By focusing on planets dozens to hundreds of light-years way, TESS may enable future breakthroughs, he said. 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.
TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 percent of the sky in the first two years alone. It will divide the sky into 26 different sectors and monitor each for at least 27 days in order to cover the complete zone.
The launch will be broadcast on NASA website or on its live YouTube stream which you will find below.