NASA launches new satellite to search for earth-like planets outside solar system

Photo: AFP

A NASA satellite that will search for planets outside our solar system that could potentially support life was launched on Wednesday, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, DPA, has said.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched at 6:51 pm (22:51 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, riding into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission was originally set for Monday but was delayed while scientists conducted further tests on the navigation system.

TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near our sun in its search for exoplanets. NASA says it will be able to detect them when they periodically block part of the light from their host stars.

The satellite will seek to find exoplanets that have the most promising conditions for supporting life, NASA said.

The data will be collected during a two-year period in which TESS will survey the entire sky by breaking it into 26 equal sectors. Powerful cameras on the satellite will stare at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars.

The first public release of processed data is planned for early in 2019, NASA said, according to DPA.

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