INTERNATIONAL - A NASA satellite scheduled to launch on Monday is part of the US space agency's search for exoplanets, including ones that could support life.
Lift-off of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) from Cape Canaveral in Florida is scheduled for 6:32 pm (2232 GMT). Meteorologists predict an 80 per cent chance of favourable weather.
TESS plans to survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near our sun in its search for exoplanets, planets that orbit a star like our solar system. NASA says it will be able to detect them when they periodically block part of the light from their host stars.
These dips in the observed brightness of a star over time create a pattern to reveal the signal of an orbiting planet, NASA said.
TESS scientists expect the mission to catalogue thousands of potential exoplanets. Of these, approximately 300 are expected to be between the size of the Earth and double the size of the Earth.
The satellite will seek to find exoplanets that have the most promising conditions for supporting life, NASA said. The data will be transmitted to Earth, where follow-up observations will be conducted to confirm the existence of true exoplanets and not false positives.
The data will be collected during a two-year period in which TESS will survey the entire sky by breaking it into 26 equal sectors. Powerful cameras on the satellite will "stare" at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars.
The first public release of processed data is planned for early in 2019, NASA said.