The TESS Mission: History, Goals, Status, and Results so far


Fri, 08 Nov 2019, 03:00 pm - 04:16 pm
Natural Science Bldg. 112 - Louisville, KY
Fall 2019
Dr. Karen Collins
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched on April 18, 2018 atop a Falcon 9 rocket. It started science operations on July 25th, 2018 and is surveying most of the sky over a period of two years, divided into 26 sectors that are each observed for ~27 days. The main mission objective is to search the brightest stars near Earth for transiting exoplanets. The primary science goal is to measure the masses of 50 planets having radius less than four times that of Earth. The TESS data are already producing 50-100 quality transiting planet candidates (PCs) per month, and they are expected to produce thousands over the two-year nominal mission. TESS has large 21 arcsec pixels and photometric apertures with radius ~1 arcmin, which are often contaminated with multiple stars. Therefore, large ground-based photometric, spectroscopic, and high-resolution imaging TESS Follow-up Observing program (TFOP) teams are required to reject false positives and confirm and characterize bona fide planets. An overview of the TESS mission, and an introduction to TFOP will be presented, followed by a mission status update. A description of the publicly available TESS data products will be provided, along with a summary of the most interesting TESS discoveries so far. Finally, we will look ahead to the recently approved extended TESS mission, and other upcoming NASA missions.


Natural Science Bldg. 112