NASA is all set to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Monday, April 16, at 6:32 p.m. EDT. The satellite will make its way into the space on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
NASA is giving members of the public the chance to view the TESS launch through a live stream coverage on its official website. The prelaunch mission coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website on Sunday, April 15, starting at 11 a.m. EDT which will include three live briefings. The space agency will start live streaming the launch of its new planet-hunting mission TESS at around 6 p.m. on Monday, April 16.
Touted as the successor to the Kepler space telescope, TESS will spend almost two years in the orbit. Launched back in 2009, the Kepler space telescope will soon become obsolete as it is expected to run out of fuel in a couple of months. The spacecraft would continue to stay in orbit once its fuel reserves dry out completely, but it will lose the ability to send back data to the Earth. The spacecraft is currently orbiting the sun from a distance of 94 million miles away from Earth.
NASA’s TESS will search for Earth-sized exoplanets, which are planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life. The solar-powered spacecraft will occupy a never-before-used elliptical orbit, called P/2, high above Earth.
It has four 100-millimeter-wide cameras on board that will provide wide fields of view covering almost 85 per cent of the entire sky. It will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than stars observed by the Kepler space telescope. The Kepler telescope has successfully found 2,245 confirmed exoplanets while 2,342 more are awaiting confirmation.
TESS’s discovery of promising exoplanets will offer future researchers some new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies.