NASA scientists have announced the upcoming launch of the space agency’s next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) probe, that will undertake a two-year survey mission to uncover previously unknown worlds beyond our solar system.
Using wide-field cameras, TESS is designed to scan 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun in search of exoplanets, previously unknown worlds beyond our solar system ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants.
According to NASA, the mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars – events that are called transits. As a planets passes in front on its star, it blocks some of the light, causing a dip in brightness. TESS will detect those dips and then use to determine basic features of the planets such as size and orbit, NASA scientists said.
The probe, currently located at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, weighs about 700 lbs and carries about 100 lbs of fuel on board.
It is scheduled to be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on April 16th.