This afternoon, SpaceX will send a refrigerator-sized satellite into orbit for NASA to hunt for distant worlds far outside our Solar System. Called TESS, it’s the first NASA spacecraft that SpaceX will launch that is designed to peer deep into the cosmos.
TESS is NASA’s newest exoplanet hunter. The probe is tasked with staring at stars tens to hundreds of light-years from Earth, watching to see if they blink. When a planet passes in front of a distant star, it dims the star’s light ever so slightly. TESS will measure these twinkles from a 13.7-day orbit that extends as far out as the distance of the Moon.
The satellite won’t get to its final orbit today….