Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – The Search for Planets Outside Our Solar System

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is set to discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class planet finder. In the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances.

After launching in 2017, TESS will use four cameras to scan the entire sky, searching for planets outside our Solar System, known as exoplanets. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to detect small planets with bright host stars, so that detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed. The mission will monitor over 500,000 of the brightest stars in the sky, searching for dips in their brightness that would indicate a planet transiting across.

TESS is predicted to find over 3,000 exoplanet candidates, ranging from gas giants to small rocky planets. About 500 of these planets are expected to be similar to Earth’s size. The stars TESS monitors will be 30-100 times brighter than those observed by Kepler, making follow-up observations much easier. Using TESS data, missions like the James Webb Space Telescope can determine specific characteristics of these planets, including whether they could support life.

Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Image: TESS

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