Image credit: NASA
Update: The SpaceX launch was scratched today as the team conducts additional GNC (guidance, navigation and control) analysis. SpaceX will now look to launch NASA's TESS satellite on Wednesday, April 18.
Original story continues below...
The latest SpaceX launch is scheduled for today in Cape Canaveral, Florida, when a Falcon 9 rocket will blast off carrying a NASA satellite that will search for planets outside our solar system.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will look for dips in brightness coming from distant stars, a sign that planets are crossing the stars in orbit.
These exoplanets could be potential 'Earth 2.0' candidates, meaning they could have life on them.
"We expect TESS will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions hold potential clues to the presence of life, which could be precisely measured by future observers," George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge, which is leading the mission, previously told TechRadar.
TESS' initial two-year exoplanet-hunting mission will focus on stars less than 300 light-years away. It may be some time before TESS makes a ground-breaking discovery, but you can watch the beginning of the journey today.
Plus, SpaceX will try to land Falcon 9's first stage back on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean, which is always a dramatic event to watch.
What time is the launch?
Today's 30-second launch window opens at 6:32pm ET, or 3:32pm PT / 10:32pm GMT. That's 8:32am AEST on Tuesday, April 17 in Australia.
The launch window is narrow, so if it closes before SpaceX can get its cargo off the ground, a 30-second backup window is set for Tuesday, April 17 at 6:13pm ET.
If for some reason the rocket can't launch today or tomorrow, The Verge notes there are even more backup launch windows scheduled through April 26.
How to watch today's launch
So, how do you tune in to see SpaceX launch a NASA satellite that could find Earth 2.0?
The easiest way is to watch the live stream on SpaceX's YouTube channel. We've also included the video below:
The launch will send TESS into a highly elliptical orbit around Earth, according to SpaceX. This should take place around 48 minutes after launch.
SpaceX launches are never dull – did you catch Elon Musk launch his Tesla Roadster into space? – so be sure to tune in if you're even just a tiny bit curious about the potential of finding Earth 2.0.
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