If all goes according to plan, NASA’s new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will launch today at 11:32 pm GMT from Cape Canaveral in the US.
You can watch the stream below on NASA TV, which will be airing TESS-related coverage throughout the evening:
Given how much press it’s gotten, you can tell that folks are pretty excited about TESS. The teeny telescope will replace the Kepler/K2 mission, which has already discovered thousands of exoplanets. TESS will look at as many as 200,000 stars in the closest 300 light-years around Earth.
Perhaps TESS will discover Earth 2.0—but it wouldn’t be able to pinpoint that for sure. The satellite is instead meant to create a catalogue of nearby planets that future telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope, can then inspect more closely. You can read all about what TESS can and can’t do here, and find out what it will take to really find a real Earth 2.0 here.
The Falcon 9 rocket is vertical and ready to go, according to SpaceX’s Twitter, and weather is 80% favourable for the scheduled launch:
Falcon 9 and @NASA_TESS are vertical on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Weather is 80% favorable for today’s launch at 6:32 p.m. EDT, 22:32 UTC. pic.twitter.com/eEgVxT24No
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 16, 2018
NASA scientists are also hosting a Reddit AMA over on r/science.
This is exciting stuff!!! We’ll keep you updated if things change or if there’s any big news before liftoff.