NASA goes in search of aliens

New NASA spacecraft, to be launched tonight, could find thousands of new worlds soon

Watch live as NASA's TESS exoplanet-hunting satellite launches into space

Barely 2 hours before the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Monday carrying NASA's new space telescope created to detect worlds beyond our solar system, the planned launch had to be delayed for at least 48 hours due to a technical glitch.

The telescope was due to go up from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 18:32 local time on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Here are four things you need to know about what could be an important scientific mission.

Thus, TESS is able to locate the exoplanets, remote enough from the parent star that they could have liquid water and, consequently, living organisms. This, as NASA said, will be 400 times larger than what Kepler observed.

The spacecraft will be looking for a phenomenon known as a transit, where a planet passes in front of its star, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star's brightness.

According to Spaceflight Now, the rescheduled TESS launch will probably take place tomorrow at 6:51 p.m. EDT (22:51 GMT), depending on the spacecraft's orbital target and the position of the moon.

The $200m piece of hardware was given the go-ahead to launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket by NASA's administrators only as recently as February.

Once deployed, TESS will observe stars in our solar neighborhood to find potential exoplanet candidates.

TESS, which follows the successful Kepler mission and the follow-up K2 mission, will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets. The satellite is instead meant to create a catalogue of nearby planets that future telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, can then inspect more closely.

When active, TESS will collect 27GB of scientific data every day before being put through NASA's specialist algorithms, which are created to clean up the signal to remove any background interference.

Life might be out there, whether microbial or more advanced, and scientists say Tess and later missions will help answer the age-old question of whether we're alone. "It's going to be a game-changer in our ability to study planets". The teeny telescope will replace the Kepler/K2 mission, which has already discovered thousands of exoplanets.

After the appropriate maneuvers lasting about two months, the satellite telescope, which has a refrigerator size and weighs 318 kilos, will be placed in a highly elliptical orbit around the Earth, to which no other boat has ever been fitted.

But soon afterward, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told SpaceX there's a government restriction that requires a license to show views of Earth from space.

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