Here's how to watch the planet-hunting TESS satellite launch

The JWST is currently being readied for launch. NASA  Chris Gunn

As a follow-up, NASA also tweeted that their team are working to "conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis".

But even before today's launch could happen, SpaceX's upgraded, full-thrust variant Falcon booster had to meet all of NASA's requirements. The idea is that a few planets orbiting these stars may be similar to our own. Eventually TESS will get into its designated orbit around 12 June, he added. Though Kepler Space Telescope has been doing the same job for years, the new satellite will advance its work and look for Earth-like planetary bodies orbiting some 200,000 brightest stars close to our sun. This is the first time that humans have used an orbiting surveyor to search almost the entire sky for new planets, compared to previous efforts that have scanned just a tiny percentage of what we can see.

"TESS forms a bridge from what we have learned about exoplanets to date and where we are headed in the future", said Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at Nasa's Goddard Spaceflight Center.

TESS' initial two-year exoplanet-hunting mission will focus on stars less than 300 light-years away.

But by the time TESS completes its mission two years from now, scientists expect, it will have increased that number by a factor of five. From Earth, the moon occupies half a degree, which is less than 1/9,000th the size of the TESS tiles.

After all, Kepler was limited by the hardware on board, meaning it could only observe a small fraction of what was out there, with numerous stars too faint to detect the surrounding planets with great accuracy. Therefore the follow-up instrument to Kepler, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has been created to observe the entire sky, and optimized to find stars 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler could study.

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"Kepler is what made us become aware that planets are as common as telephone poles", SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak told Space.com.

The TESS mission is expected to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, out of which hundred may be Earth-sized or no larger than twice the size of Earth as such planets would be most likely to feature rocky surfaces or oceans, making them more hospitable to life forms. Repeated dips would indicate a planet passing in front of its star.

Further follow-ups on potentially habitable planets could be done using more powerful telescopes, such as NASA's yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, which is created to analyze alien atmospheres and help scientists look for potential signs of life.

TESS will take the baton from NASA's other planet-hunting spacecraft, Kepler, which is running out of fuel after nearly a decade in space.

Coverage of the launch has garnered particular attention, but what exactly is TESS and what does it hope to achieve?

"There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity", Musk said in March.

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