SpaceX Rocket Launch Of TESS Set For Wednesday, April 18

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s TESS satellite is scheduled to liftoff on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at 6:51 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch was scrubbed on Monday in order for engineers to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis.

Attempted Landing On Drone Ship

Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

NASA TESS Satellite

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 survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets. TESS will then create a catalog of thousands of exoplanet candidates using this transit photometry method.

After this list has been compiled, the TESS mission will conduct ground-based follow-up observations to confirm that the exoplanets candidates are true exoplanets and not false positives. These ground-based telescopes will collaborate with other ground-based telescopes to measure the masses of the planets.

Using the known planet size, orbit and mass, TESS and ground-based follow-up will be able to determine the planets’ compositions. This will reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something even more unusual. Additional follow-up with ground- and space-based missions, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will also allow astronomers to study the atmospheres of many of these planets.

Photo credits: SpaceX (Falcon 9) NASA (TESS)