NASA aiming at April 16 Launch for Next Planet-Hunting Spacecraft

NASA aiming at April 16 Launch for Next Planet-Hunting Spacecraft

NASA is planning to launch its next planet hunting spacecraft on April 16. The spacecraft will liftoff on SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA has planned media event on March 28 to provide more information about the mission. The mission named Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will be searching for planets outside the solar system.

NASA scientists are expecting TESS to find thousands of exoplanets orbiting the nearest and brightest stars. The missions will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars in our cosmic neighborhood. As per NASA release, TESS scientists expect the mission will catalogue more than 2,000 planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners include Orbital ATK, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Space Telescope Science Institute. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

Of these, approximately 300 are expected to be Earth-sized and super Earth-sized exoplanets, which are worlds no larger than twice the size of Earth. Powerful telescopes like NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope can then further study these exoplanets to search for important characteristics, like their atmospheric composition and whether they could support life.

NASA scientists have been tracking many exoplanets to find out the planets that have conditions for supporting life.

NASA official information about the mission suggests, “The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life. The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits. TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets.”