The $337 million TESS mission is aimed at surveying almost the entire sky for exoplanets of all types, but especially for Earth-size worlds that can be targeted for further follow-up.
It was scrubbed hours before the Monday window when the space company made a decision to conduct more analysis of the guidance, navigation and control systems.
The mission builds on the legacy of NASA's Kepler space telescope, which examined a smaller area of the sky and confirmed the presence of thousands of planets and, by extension, hundreds of billions across the Milky Way. NASA estimates that TESS will detect more than 20,000 planets over the course of its two-year primary mission. Of these, some 300 are expected to be Earth-sized and super-Earth-sized exoplanets, which are worlds no larger than twice the size of Earth.
SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday evening at around 6:51p.m.
Roughly the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and equipped with four special cameras, TESS will take about 60 days to reach a highly elliptical, first-of-a-kind orbit looping it between Earth and the moon every 2-1/2 weeks.
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For example, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, now due for launch in 2020, should be able to analyze the chemical composition of alien atmospheres. The targets TESS finds are going to be fantastic subjects for research for decades to come.
With TESS, NASA is taking the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system. "It's really a scout for this whole process".
NASA already stated that about 3,700 exoplanets were known through Kepler images and believe that there would be over 4,500 unknown exoplanets and about 50 exoplanets can be inhabited suspecting to have living conditions suitable for human.
For more about TESS, check out our earlier story and the mission website.