NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft poised for launch

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NASA's newest planet-hunting spacecraft poised for launch
In this image released by SpaceX, NASA' s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 40, Monday, April 16, 2018, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA’s newest planet-hunting spacecraft is poised for a Monday evening launch. The Tess satellite will survey almost the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them. (SpaceX via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s newest planet-hunting spacecraft is poised for a Monday evening launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Tess satellite will scan almost the entire sky, staring at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them. These mysterious worlds beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, could harbor life.

Scientists expect Tess to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, maybe even water worlds and places defying imagination — possibly even a twin Earth. Bigger and more powerful observatories of the future will scrutinize these prime candidates for potential signs of life.

A SpaceX rocket is scheduled to blast off with Tess at 6:32 p.m. The name Tess is short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.