April 16 is the scheduled launch date of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The exoplanet hunter will launch aboard SpaceX's flagship Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch of NASA's TESS will commence at 6:32 p.m. on Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX posted in a tweet that it had finished static fire testing of the Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for the targeted launch of TESS next week. The TESS was sealed inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. It will be transported to the launch pad.
During the launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will lift off with 10 Merlin engines on board. Nine engines will be lit on the first stage, and the tenth engine is a vacuum version on the second stage. The engines will fire as soon as the first stage and the interstage separates from the rocket.
NASA announced that its teams are in the final stages of preparation for the launch of the new planet-hunting spacecraft.
NASA will also host a series of live briefings via Facebook on April 15, Sunday. The space agency will give a mission overview at 11 a.m. to be followed with a press conference at 1 p.m. Mission scientists and experts involved in the TESS mission will answer questions during the live broadcast.
The liftoff of the mission is considered as the next big leap in the search for planets outside of the Earth's solar system.
What To Expect?
Should the launch carry out successfully, TESS will travel into its final trajectory around the Earth. It will navigate at an angled orbit. It is expected to finish one orbit around Earth every 13 days or half the time that it takes for the moon to orbit the planet.
According to NASA, the satellite's unique orbit will allow it to transmit data back to Earth each time that it is closest to planet. The angled position of TESS' orbit will maximize the time that the satellite can survey each sector.
For two years, TESS will be on a mission to scan 85 percent of the skies for exoplanets.
In 2016, NASA announced the discovery of seven new exoplanets located some 40 light-years away. The said exoplanets are orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 star.
In February this year, 95 new exoplanets were discovered beyond the solar system through the Kepler telescope. The said planets range in size and shapes, but they are mostly rocky.
To date, ten more exoplanets were added to NASA's exoplanet archive. There are already 3,717 confirmed exoplanets based on the archive's database.
TESS is part of the NASA's Astrophysics Explorer mission that is led and operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. George Ricker of MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research is the principal investigator for the mission.