A hunter of alien worlds
The TESS satellite is a major upgrade for humanity’s ability to find exoplanets.
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life. The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits. TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets. In this image, technicians help prepare the spacecraft for its mission.
Currently scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018, TESS will survey the entire sky over the course of two years by breaking it up into 26 different sectors, each 24 degrees by 96 degrees across. The powerful cameras on the spacecraft will stare at each sector for at least 27 days, looking at the brightest stars at a two-minute cadence. From Earth, the Moon occupies half a degree, which is less than 1/9,000th the size of the TESS tiles.The stars TESS will study are 30 to 100 times brighter than those the Kepler mission and K2 follow-up surveyed, which will enable far easier follow-up observations with both ground-based and space-based telescopes. TESS will also cover a sky area 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler.