The Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, lifted off on schedule from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6.51pm on Wednesday (local time), starting the clock on a two-year quest to detect more worlds circling stars beyond our solar system that might harbor life.
"With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses", said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA and SpaceX are gearing up again to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS - and if all goes as planned, you can pick from two streaming-video channels for watching liftoff.
ORBIT: Tess will aim for a unique elongated orbit that passes within 45,000 miles of Earth on one end and as far away as the orbit of the moon on the other end.
Nationwide search for grandmother accused of 2 killings
Marceno said Monday that she will eventually run out of resources and fears that, in desperation, she could kill again. The obituary for David Riess was published last week, and mentioned his children and grandchildren, but not wife.
This mission's navigation includes getting the satellite close to the Moon, so it can slingshot around and enter an elliptical orbit. The lunar gravity will keep the spacecraft stabilized in this orbit for decades to come, with no fuel needed.
JOB: Tess will scan nearly the entire sky during its $337 million mission, staring at hundreds of thousands, even millions of small, faint red dwarf stars. "With TESS, we're going to be able to get the masses for most of the planets and go the next step and study the composition of the atmospheres".
"The planets discovered by TESS will be different, as TESS will search for planets around closer, brighter stars". Satellite maker Orbital ATK's Robert Lockwood said he expects Tess to take exoplanet discovery to a whole new level.
TESS' efforts will build on work done by the Kepler telescope, which has discovered more than 2,600 exoplanets, according to Space.com.
NASA will then follow up with the US$8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope to determine whether or not these planets could be habitable.