colorful retro illustration of the TESS space telescope and planetary systems

TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in 2018 to discover small planets orbiting bright stars all over the night sky. Like its predecessor, the Kepler Space Telescope, TESS identifies exoplanets by watching for tiny dips in a star’s brightness caused by an orbiting planet. But unlike Kepler, which focused on a single patch of stars, TESS is conducting an expansive survey that encompasses almost the entire sky.

During its two-year primary mission TESS monitored more than 200,000 pre-selected stars and detected over 1,900 exoplanet candidates. In July 2020 TESS began its first extended mission during which it continues to monitor our stellar neighborhood and identify the planets that reside within it. The next time you look up at the stars you might think of TESS - hard at work discovering previously unknown worlds around those scattered points of light.