Rocket-control glitch delays launch of NASA’s planet-hunting satellite

NASA's planet-hunting satellite

An 11th- hour technical glitch prompted SpaceX to postpone its planned launch on Monday of a new NASA space telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system.

SpaceX halted the countdown a little more than two hours before its Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to carry the Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Space Exploration Technologies, as billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private launch service is formally known, said on Twitter that the blast-off was scrubbed due to unspecified problems in the rocket’s guidance control system.

The launch was rescheduled for 6:51 p.m. EDT (22:51 GMT) on Wednesday.

Search for exoplanets

The two-year, $337 million TESS mission is intended to expand on crafted by its forerunner, the Kepler space telescope, which has found the main part of somewhere in the range of 3,700 exoplanets archived amid the previous 20 years and is coming up short on fuel. NASA hopes to pinpoint thousands all the more already obscure universes, maybe several them Earth-sized or “super-Earth”- estimated — no bigger than twice as large as our home planet.

Those are trusted the destined to highlight rough surfaces or seas, and are in this way thought about the best contender for life to develop. Researchers said they trust TESS will eventually help list no less than 100 more rough exoplanets for additionally think about in what has turned out to be one of cosmology’s most up to date fields of investigation.

Transit photometry

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 two and a half weeks. Like Kepler, TESS will use a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic, repetitive dips in the visible light from stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them.

But TESS will scan a broader swath of the heavens to focus on 200,000 pre-selected stars that are relatively nearby — some of them just dozens of light years away — and thus among the brightest as seen from Earth. That makes them better suited for sensitive follow-up analysis of exoplanet candidates TESS locates.

TESS will concentrate on stars called red dwarfs, smaller, cooler and longer-lived than our sun. Red dwarfs also have a high propensity for Earth-sized, presumably rocky planets, making them potentially fertile ground for further scrutiny.

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