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TESS launch postponed, NASA now targets April 18

17 April 2018

In a major landmark for the space agency, this is the first of its missions to be launched by a SpaceX rocket.

The company hopes to land this first stage on a floating ocean platform following liftoff, and reuse it on a space station supply run for NASA this summer.

As part of the planned mission, SpaceX will launch NASA's new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, satellite that will be used to search for new planets.

A backup launch window at 2232 UTC was available today, but the team has elected to take some extra time to resolve the problem.

TESS will survey the entire sky over the course of two years by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across. The satellite is created to search for evidence of exoplanets - that is, planets outside of our own Solar System - and scientists are excited about what they might find.

It is said that once TESS takes off, it will arrive in the orbit of the earth and will move in the highly elliptical path which will bring it closer to the moon.

NASA predicts that TESS could find more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of the Earth.

The Tess mission will go up on a Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida and survey almost the entire sky over the course of the next two years.

"But the data on all these planets is interesting, because they help us form a picture of how planetary systems form and evolve".

TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this photo.

"How regular is a planet like Earth around a star like the Sun?" said Patricia "Padi" Boyd, chief of the TESS visitor specialist program at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

And because the planets circling them are bigger relative to the size of the star, and orbit at a closer distance, the slight disruptions of visible light from their transits are more pronounced, scientists said. "TESS is basically the discoverer, it's going to find the really exciting planets that we can then follow up with powerful telescopes".

TESS scientists expect the mission to catalogue thousands of potential exoplanets. Repetitive, periodic dips can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star. Although the ground system used for these studies are able to examine larger areas of the sky, the Earth's atmosphere greatly limits the quality of their data. We can say how massive they are and how old they are.

"The answer we got from Kepler was that planets are everywhere and that on average, every star in the Milky Way has a planet", she said.

TESS launch postponed, NASA now targets April 18