Nasa must launch Monday his new space telescope in search of planets of the size of land that may, perhaps, to host life.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) must be propelled into space at 18H32 (22H32 GMT) by a rocket Falcon 9 of Space X at Cape Canaveral, in Florida, if weather conditions allow.
Over the next two years, the mission of this gear is a cost of 337 million will be scanning more than 200,000 of the brightest stars beyond our solar system, the search for exoplanets in their orbit.
As Kepler, the first telescope of its kind launched in 2009 by the u.s. space agency, which it replaces, it uses the transit method detects planets when they pass in front of their star, which they dim momentarily in the light. This allows among others to deduce the size, mass and orbit.
According to Nasa, TESS will be able to discover 20,000 exoplanets, including fifty of the size of the Earth, and nearly 500, which would be two times larger than our planet.
“We may even find planets in the orbit of stars that we can see with the naked eye”, said on Sunday the press Elisa Quintana, a researcher on the program TESS. “In the next few years, we will probably be able to get out and point at a star, knowing that it was a planet.”
The Kepler mission has already discovered 2,300 new exoplanets confirmed by other telescopes. TESS will scrutinise an area 350 times larger.
The next step will be, for the ground-based telescopes and space to observe the planets and detected even more closely.
The James Webb Space Telescope, which should be the successor to Hubble and the launch is scheduled in 2020, may be able to detect molecular signatures in the atmospheres of exoplanets including the signature of the presence of life.
“TESS is a bridge between what we have already learned about exoplanets and what they will learn in the future,” said Jeff Volosin, project manager at the Center Goddard space flights of Nasa.
“With the hope of being able one day, in the coming decades, and identify the conditions for the potential existence of life outside our solar system.”