NASA successfully launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, Wednesday evening as part of an ambitious step that will allow astronomers to estimate how many planets there may be beyond our solar system.
How it works: The spacecraft, which lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, has wide-angle cameras. Over the next two years, it will photograph nearly 85% of outer space to detect the brief dips of light sparked by planets passing in front of a star. The database it creates will guide NASA missions for decades. The Kepler Mission has so far identified 2,650 exoplanets to date, per Space.com