"It is very exciting".
"We just got done with our launch readiness review, and all went well", said Omar Baez, senior launch director for the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here.
"One of the biggest questions in exoplanet exploration is: If an astronomer finds a planet in a star's habitable zone, will it be interesting from a biologist's point of view?" said George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. NASA says it's somewhere between the size of a refrigerator and a stacked washer and dryer. Repeated dips would indicate a planet passing in front of its star.More news: A Bushfire Still Burning in Sydney's West is Being Treated as Suspicious
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the heir to NASA's Kepler exoplanet mission throne, is set to orbit Earth while pointing it's viewfinders out to space.
ORBIT: Tess will aim for a unique elongated orbit that passes within 45,000 miles of Earth on one end and as far away as the orbit of the moon on the other end. It will take Tess two weeks to circle Earth.
TESS, with its four advanced cameras, will scan an area that is 350 times larger, comprising 85 per cent of the sky in the first two years alone.
"But since then, we have found thousands of planets orbiting others stars and we think all the stars in our galaxy must have their own family of planets".More news: De Bruyne lauds mentally tough City after slaying Spurs
During its almost ten-year term in space, the Kepler mission confirmed more than 2,600 exoplanets, many of them thousands of light years away. With Tess, "our planetary census is going to move in" closer to us, MIT researcher Jenn Burt said Sunday.
"We expect TESS will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions, which hold potential clues to the presence of life, could be precisely measured by future observers". Its job is to find and characterize planets that will become the main targets of future telescopes.
The next step is for ground-based and space telescopes to peer even closer. Giant telescopes still in construction or on the draw zing board also will lend a hand.More news: Oladipo, Pacers Hand LeBron, Cavaliers Game 1 Playoff Defeat