Launch of NASA's TESS planet-hunter postponed to April 18

Launch of NASA's TESS planet-hunter postponed to April 18

"I don't think you'll see much in the way of clouds at all, so it should be good viewing conditions, as long as those winds do drop off", said Mike McAleenan, the launch weather officer from the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron.

But the team has just announced that the launch has been scrubbed.

It will be launched with SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

A new satellite, set to launch today, is expected to find thousands more planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets.

Adding to the anxiety will be the fact that TESS will be put into an orbit never attempted before, out as far as the moon and back to Earth, lasting 14 days at a time.

The two-year, $337 million TESS mission is created to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which has discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel. After its two-year mission, TESS will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope, a space telescope scheduled to launch in May 2020.

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Last-minute delays for testing are not unusual for rocket launches. Satellite maker Orbital ATK's Robert Lockwood said he expects Tess to take exoplanet discovery to a whole new level.

This meant a hard time for the astronomers studying the identified planet.

"TESS will collect 27 gigabytes per day in its all-sky search for undiscovered planets orbiting 200,000 of the brightest and closest stars in our solar neighborhood", NASA explains on its website. "TESS is basically the discoverer, it's going to find the really exciting planets that we can then follow up with powerful telescopes".

"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. For ages, they have wondered and worked hard for finding new life on a different planet.

In addition to its search for exoplanets, TESS will allow scientists from the wider community to request targets for astrophysics research on approximately 20,000 additional objects during the mission through its Guest Investigator programme. "By looking at such a large section of the sky, this kind of stellar real estate, we open up the ability to cherry-pick the best stars for doing follow-up science", said Burt. "Kepler was a statistical survey that looked at a small patch of sky for four years and taught us that Earths are everywhere".

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