SpaceX to launch NASA spacecraft to look for alien planets

Elon Musk to bypass environmental review for test tunnels in L.A

Just a couple of decades ago, the notion of finding habitable planets - or any planets at all - was a mere fantasy, said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA.

TESS's job is to spot distant planets when they pass in front of even more distant stars, a movement known to astronomers as a "transit".

"We know of several thousand planets now, and with Tess, we expect to find maybe 10,000 more planets", added Tom Barclay, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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To date, SpaceX has successfully landed Falcon 9 first stages 23 times and re-flown 11 of them. Then, on regular intervals, the data on the identified planets will be transmitted back to Earth, which astronomers can use for follow-up studies.

As SpaceX attempts to do with most of its Falcon 9 rockets, eight minutes after the launch, it will attempt to land the rocket's first stage on a ship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. - SpaceX is preparing to launch a NASA spacecraft Monday night that could help humans to one day find alien life. The Tess satellite will survey nearly the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them.

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. On board is NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), created to find exoplanets. These newfound worlds eventually will become prime targets for future telescopes looking to tease out any signs of life.

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