A NASA spacecraft has been launched on a two-year mission to find faraway planets and about half a million stars.
A SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, carrying the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
TESS is the next generation of exoplanet-hunting tools, with the ultimate goal of finding worlds out among the stars.
See: Hunting Tool
It has taken thousands of generations and countless migrations to explore our own small planet. Now, in less than one lifetime, our robot surrogates have ventured to nearly every significant object in the solar system. Vast new territories and landscapes have opened up before our eyes. The experience has transformed the way we understand our species and its place in the universe. It may yet uncover alien life. Join scientists in a discussion of what we are learning today from worlds beyond Earth and find out where this effort is likely to lead us next.
See: World Beyond Earth
Alien life may be more unlikely than commonly thought, according to a UK study that hints at a cosmic lack of phosphorus.
The element is vital to energy storage and transfer in cells, and is part of the chemical backbone of DNA.
Phosphorus is created in supernovae, exploding massive stars at the end of their lives.
See: Alien Life? Forget It