NASA want to find themselves some new planets and with ol' faithful Kepler on its last legs, they're sending the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) up into the great dark on the back of one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. This is the first mission to do so, so it's a big deal!
You can catch the NASA launch livestream right here!
TESS is designed to survey some of Earth's closest neighbours for the next two years, keeping an eye on some 200,000 stars waiting for shadows to flitter across their surface - shadows that signal more planets (and hopefully not the threat of a sentient, antagonistic alien species). Though the launch is tomorrow, we won't expect any data until mid-year, sometime in June.
TESS will fly a mostly-irregular orbit that NASA has not used before. When the SpaceX rocket launches it into the sky and drops it off, its highly elliptical orbit will mean that it zooms all the way out near the moon before dipping back in over the Earth.
Science is so ridiculously incredible.
The launch window will open at 8:51am AEST, April 19 but should they miss this particular time, the launch window will remain open until around June. We'll bring you the stream whenever Elon and NASA get the thing up and out there.
Here's that time in all capital cities:
- Perth, WA: 6:51am
- Darwin, NT: 8:31am
- Adelaide, SA: 8:31am
- Brisbane, QLD: 8:51am
- Sydney, NSW: 8:51am
- Canberra, ACT: 8:51am
- Melbourne, VIC: 8:51am
- Hobart, TAS: 8:51am
The livestream can be viewed below: