Watch NASA’S New Exoplanet-Hunting Satellite Launch Aboard A SpaceX Rocket Right Here [Update: Launch Delayed]

Watch NASA’S New Exoplanet-Hunting Satellite Launch Aboard A SpaceX Rocket Right Here [Update: Launch Delayed]

If all goes according to plan, NASA’s new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will launch today at 8:32AM AEST from Cape Canaveral.

Illustration of what TESS might look like in orbit. Illustration: NASA

You can watch the stream below on NASA TV, which will be airing TESS-related coverage throughout the day:

Given how much press it’s gotten, you can tell that folks are pretty excited about TESS. The teeny telescope will replace the Kepler/K2 mission, which has already discovered thousands of exoplanets. TESS will look at as many as 200,000 stars in the closest 300 light-years around Earth.

Perhaps TESS will discover Earth 2.0 – but it wouldn’t be able to pinpoint that for sure. 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. You can read all about what TESS can and can’t do here:

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”NASA’s Newest Planet Hunter Will Do What Kepler Couldn’t” excerpt=”On April 16, NASA is planning to launch its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. TESS is an Earth-orbiting instrument meant to spot faraway planets circling some 200,000 stars within 300 light-years of Earth. Astronomers hopes that TESS will help them learn whether or not there are other habitable planets, or even life beyond the Solar System. TESS can’t do this alone, however.”]

And here’s what it will take to really find a real Earth 2.0:

[referenced url=”” thumb=”” title=”When Will We Finally Find A Truly Earth-Like Exoplanet?” excerpt=”There are many definitions of an Earth-like exoplanet. Some say it’s a planet that orbits a star at just the right distance for liquid water to exist on its surface. Some say it’s a rocky planet, such as ours. But determining if an exoplanet is truly habitable requires actually figuring out what’s on the planet.”]

The Falcon 9 rocket is vertical and ready to go, according to SpaceX’s Twitter, and weather is 80 per cent favourable for the scheduled launch:

NASA scientists are also hosting a Reddit AMA over on r/science.

This is exciting stuff! We’ll keep you updated if things change or if there’s any big news before liftoff.

Update 7:10AM AEST: SpaceX confirmed via Twitter that the launch has been delayed to a target date of Wednesday, April 18 for additional analysis.

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