Watch NASA launch next planet-hunting satellite aboard SpaceX Falcon 9

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"TESS will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida".

The Tess satellite will scan nearly the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them.

NASA's Dr Martin Still also said in a blog: "We expect to find a whole range of planet sizes between planets the size of Mercury or even the moon, our moon, to planets the same size as Jupiter and everything in between".

Over the next two years, TESS will survey the sky, breaking it into 26 sections, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across, specficially looking for exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars.

Nasa predicts that TESS will discover 20,000 exoplanets - or planets outside the solar system - including more than 50 Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth.

The size of the TESS is like a small washing machine which is built to search the nearest, brightest stars for the signs life.

The satellite will look for transits or occasional light-blocking events that result due to the presence of a planet orbiting a star, according to a statement from NASA. "It is going to more than double the number that have been seen and detected by Kepler".

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Another of the missions to follow up Tess data will be the Swiss-led, European Space Agency (Esa) project called Cheops (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite).

The TESS mission coincides with the debut of powerful new ground- and space-based observatories, including NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2020.

The main aim of the TESS is to hunt the alien planets that are believed to be circling close to the sun.

"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".

"We can measure the stars' fundamental properties". The satellite will fly with the Falcon for 44 minutes before being ejected on to a highly elliptical path around Earth. It is created to look stars of all ages and sizes within a few hundred light-years of Earth, and it will be able to canvass the entire sky in just two years. Christiansen said. "We can resolve competing theories about how planets form".

"TESS is very much a trash-treasure sort of mission", said Natalia Guerrero, deputy manager for the TESS Objects of Interest team.

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