Further follow-ups on potentially habitable planets could be done using more powerful telescopes, such as NASA's yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, which is created to analyze alien atmospheres and help scientists look for potential signs of life. The NASA-funded, MIT-designed Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is hitching a ride on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Based on Kepler's statistics, the science team expects to detect more than 1,500 transiting exoplanet candidates over the course of a two-year primary mission, including roughly 500 Earth-sized and "Super Earth" planets.
Once TESS has spotted these new planets, terrestrial and space telescopes will be able to study them more precisely. "This is the future". "But I want to add that we care about all the planets that we find, not just the habitable ones - because for a variety of reasons, all the planets matter".
"Humans have wondered forever whether we were alone in the universe, and until 25 years ago the only planets we knew about were the eight in our own solar system", he told reporters on the eve of the TESS launch.
TESS is looking for small, rocky, Earth-like planets, which are most likely to be found orbiting red dwarfs like Barnard's Star, named after the Vanderbilt astronomer who first discovered it.
NASA is all set to launch its next hunt for planets outside our solar system as preparations get underway for the launch of the TESS satellite, which will be carried into space in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday morning. The aging spacecraft is now low on fuel and near the end of its life.
"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky", NASA's Astrophysics Division director Paul Hertz said last month.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is expected to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:32 pm Eastern Time which is 4:02 am (Tuesday) in India.
George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: 'TESS is equipped with four very sensitive cameras that will be able to monitor almost the entire sky. It costs $ 337 million. Once those planets are identified by TESS, scientists can zoom in on them using other telescopes, study their atmospheres and atmospheric conditions, and even look for signs of habitability.