NASA spacecraft aims to put mystery planets on galactic map

The payload fairing containing NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) was lifted up by crane and moved into the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The fairing will be mated to the ULA Atlas V rocket. GOES-S is the second in a series of four advanced geostationary weather satellites. The satellite is slated to launch aboard the ULA Atlas V on March 1.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Calling all planets that orbit around bright, nearby stars: NASA's new Tess spacecraft is looking to do a head count.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite -- Tess for short -- is embarking Monday on a two-year quest to find and identify mystery worlds thought to be lurking in our cosmic backyard. The spacecraft aims to add thousands of exoplanets, or planets beyond our solar system, to the galactic map for future study.

Life might be out there, whether microbial or more advanced, and scientists say Tess and later missions will help answer the age-old question of whether we're alone.

Tess is flying on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to blast off at 6:32 p.m. Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.