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What You Need to Know about TESS- NASA’s Next Exoplanet Hunter!

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite- TESS for short- will launch today at 6:51 pm ET! It will orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station! TESS’ two-year mission aims to add thousands of exoplanets beyond our solar system, to the galactic map for future study!

What You Need to Know about TESS- NASA’s Next Exoplanet Hunter!

Watch the live stream here, beginning at 6:30 pm ET 

Here are four things you need to know about today’s launch! 

After about ten minutes of after the launch, SpaceX is expected to land the first stage of the rocket back on Earth on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. To date, the company has pulled this off 23 times during Falcon 9 launches, with about half of the boosters coming down on “drone ships.” But today’s Falcon 9 lifting off will be brand-new, according to SpaceX vice president Hans Koenigsmann.

What You Need to Know about TESS- NASA’s Next Exoplanet Hunter!
SpaceX is also going to attempt to recover the payload fairing, the nose cone that will protect TESS during liftoff. The fairing halves will float back to Earth under parachutes and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, where company personnel will retrieve them via boat. The company has made two attempts to catch its payload fairings without success, but hopes to recover fairings (which cost up to $6 million, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said) for later reuse.

TESS is equipped with four sensitive cameras to hunt for exoplanets around stars relatively close to the sun. These cameras will notice the tiny brightness dips caused when alien worlds cross their host stars’ faces! This work will begin in June, once TESS is at its final orbit, a highly elliptical 13.7-day path round Earth!

By following up on TESS’s finds with other telescopes like the James Webb telescope (scheduled to launch in May 2020), scientists might be able to learn even more about the newfound worlds!

Daily Planet will be on location at Cape Canaveral during the TESS launch on Wednesday so tune in at 7E/4P on Discovery Canada for the full breakdown!