Next Generation Explorer-class Planet Finder

TESS: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

This artist's depiction of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Credit: TESS team
This is an artist’s depiction of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Credit: TESS team

Space news (March 28, 2016) – Searching 200,000 stars looking for transiting Earth-togas giant size bodies passing in front of their home sun in relation to Sol

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite’s (TESS) a next generation planet-finding spacecraft designed to enable the search for Earth 2.0. TESS will conduct a three-year mission to monitor the brightness of over 200,000 suns, looking for temporary drops in brightness as exoplanets pass in front of their parent sun in relation to Earth. It will undertake the first two-year all-sky transit survey to identify exoplanets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting at a range of orbital distances and various stellar types. TESS will search for small rocky planets lying within the Goldilocks zone of their home stars we could call Earth 2.0.

Earth 2.0 refers to an exoplanet suitable for Earth-based life to survive and prosper, with the ingredients-of-life humans need to continue as a species. Astrophysicists expect TESS to detect more than 3000 transiting exoplanet candidates, including about 500 Earth-sized to Super-sized bodies, less than twice Earth’s radius. Planetary scientists will catalog the brightest and nearest suns to Sol with transiting rocky exoplanets. 

This catalog of prime candidates for Earth 2.0 is scheduled for additional study using current Earth and space-based telescopes. In the future, astrophysicists will use the James Webb Space Telescope and new ground-based instruments to take a closer look at each candidate. These follow-up observations will refine measurements of each planets’ mass, radius, density and atmospheric conditions. The hope is to identify exoplanets with the right ingredients-of-life, which could act as a cradle for the next human Genesis. The world we could one day live on!

Launch’s just months away

The tentative working launch date for TESS is August of 2017, but June 2018 could be closer to the mark. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and deliver it to the correct orbital position. From its position high above the Earth, TESS will survey the night sky looking for slight dips in the brightness of distant stars as unseen exoplanets pass in front. Slight dips that could reveal the existence of an exoplanet where life could exist. A place called Earth 2.0!

Watch this YouTube video on TESS.

Read about the launch of X-ray satellite “Hitomi”, “Pupil of the Eye”.

Learn more about the recent observation of gravitational waves by LIGO.

Read about mysterious ripples observed moving across the planet-forming region of a young star.

Learn more about the search for Earth 2.0.

Take the voyage of NASA here.

Learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope.

Discover the mission of TESS here.