Thursday 15 November 2018

Nasa’s planet-hunting spacecraft poised for launch

Scientists expect Tess to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, and maybe even water worlds.

An illustration of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Nasa/AP)
An illustration of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Nasa/AP)

By Marica Dunn, Associated Press

Nasa’s newest planet-hunting spacecraft is poised for an evening launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Tess satellite will scan almost the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them.

The mysterious worlds beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, could harbour life.

Scientists expect Tess to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, maybe even water worlds and places defying imagination — possibly even a twin Earth.

Bigger and more powerful observatories of the future will scrutinise these prime candidates for potential signs of life.

A SpaceX rocket is scheduled to blast off with Tess at 6:32pm local time. The name Tess is short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

Press Association

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