Planet-hunting satellite launches from the Cape

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 17, 2018

The cost of sending a single SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into orbit is around $62m (£43m), Engadget reports.

The satellite is tasked with "a mission to detect planets outside of our solar system", NASA said on its website, referring to the so-called exoplanets.

"They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars", Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, told reporters on Sunday.

Described as being similar to Luke Skywalker's Tatooine, this planet orbits a pair of stars.

"So in the next few years we might even be able to walk outside and point at a star and know that it has a planet".

NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft will have to wait another couple of days before lifting off.

An artist's rendition of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS.

NASA says TESS could help answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Scheduled for an April 2018 launch, the spacecraft will prowl for planets around the closest, brightest stars. The aging spacecraft is now low on fuel and near the end of its life.

The Kepler mission found 2,300 confirmed exoplanets, and thousands more candidate planets. "The power of imagery with science really makes the connection with people".

Controlling where the rocket would drop in the ocean would be handled with retro burns and SpaceX would deploy a "catcher ship" to the location in order to retrieve the rocket quickly.

"Tess will find small planets, rocky planets that might have atmospheres and features that may be conducive to life", Buzasi said.

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