Watch SpaceX launch an observatory to hunt alien planets

SpaceX’s Valuation Surges to $25 Billion With New Funding Round

Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, April 18, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events that are called transits.

"TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions".

In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Kepler stared at 250,000 distant stars in a cross-shaped area equal to 0.25 percent of the sky, and identified the signatures of more than 5,000 confirmed planets and candidates. TESS will also be able to survey 20 times the amount of sky surveyed by Kepler from its High Earth Orbit. The mission will focus on planets circling bright stars that are less than 300 light-years from Earth. Musk plans to fly roughly 30 missions this year and has completed seven to date.

"S will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars", Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director, said in a statement. The booster could then be reused in a future mission. "The thing that we can imagine is that there's this armada of nanosatellites that'll be sweeping out from the Earth to send back information".

"We know of several thousand planets now, and with Tess, we expect to find maybe 10,000 more planets", added Tom Barclay, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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