The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is designed to discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest dwarf stars in the sky. In its prime mission, a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS monitored the brightness of stars for periodic drops caused by planet transits. The prime mission ended on July 4, 2020 and TESS is now in an extended mission. TESS is finding planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to giant planets, showcasing the diversity of planets in the galaxy.
Astronomers predict that TESS will discover dozens of Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth. In addition to Earth-sized planets, TESS is expected to find some 20,000 exoplanets in its two-year prime mission. TESS will find upwards of 17,000 planets larger than Neptune.
TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.
Worlds TESS Could Discover
Go here for the latest news and discoveries from NASA’s new mission to search for new worlds around 200,000 of the brightest stars near the Sun.
Detailed information on the TESS mission: its science goals, background information on exoplanets, a glossary of terms, and more.
This interactive experience provides an overview of the most common techniques used to find planets beyond our solar system.