Nasa's mission to find a new Earth (and say hi to aliens)

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Tess for short - is embarking Monday on a two-year quest to find and identify mystery worlds thought to be lurking in our cosmic backyard. Its spiraling expanse probably contains about 400-billion stars, our Sun among them.

TESS data will also be publicly available so that anyone can download them and search for exoplanets. We are a very small part of a very big universe.

When finished, it's expected that TESS will have surveyed 85% of the visible sky on its planet-hunting mission.

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The launch costs for the TESS satellite amount to $87 million, NASA officials have revealed prior to the launch.

When TESS reaches the stars, it will begin its ambitious hunt for alien worlds.

"One of the many wonderful things that Kepler told us is that planets are everywhere and there are all kinds of planets out there". This enabled researchers to discover even more exoplanets, understand the evolution of stars and gain insight about supernovae and black holes.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: That's George Ricker, an astronomer at MIT. This one seemed like a really good opportunity to fly a trajectory a little bit out more towards the limits.

TESS will find signals of planet candidates, Seager said.

NASA is sending a telescope on a mission to detect planets similar to Earth outside of our solar system.

TESS will survey 200 000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets. This will make it easier for scientists to do follow-up measurements.

From just that brightness data, TESS scientists will be able to differentiate between real planets and false signals like those caused by debris or instrument flukes. Our nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, was recently found to possess at least one planet - probably a rocky one. Kepler's fuel tank is running precariously low after nine years of flight, and NASA expects it to shut down within several months. It could analyze the planet's atmospheres.

NASA estimates that TESS could find thousands of these candidate planets. After the Dragon has undergone all the tests its set for the NASA commercial crew debut that is poised to happy later this year. Ruth Angus is an astronomer at Columbia University. But the distance of TESS is capped at 300 light years.

Red dwarfs are the most common stars around and, as their name implies, relatively small.

On the other hand, scientist may overlook signs of life that is radically different from us. But who knows if those conditions apply across the galaxy?

This is the first time in history when a space-borne all-sky transit survey will be conducted.