TESS Counting Down to Take-Off

TESS Counting Down to Take-Off

Fri April 6th, 2018

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Pre-launch media coverage of the MIT-led mission.

Planned for launch April 16, 2018, The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an MIT-led NASA mission to discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, the satellite will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. No ground-based survey can achieve this feat.

Professor Sara Seager from MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), joins George Ricker (TESS Principal Investigator and Director of the CCD Laboratory in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research) and David Latham (Director of Science and a Senior Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Harvard) as Deputy Director of Science on the TESS leadership team.

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NASA’s next exoplanet hunter will seek worlds close to home
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is designed to spot planets orbiting nearby bright stars.

“It’s not so much the numbers of planets that we care about, but the fact that they are orbiting nearby stars,” says Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and deputy science director for TESS.

Read the April 4, 2018 Nature story NASA’s next exoplanet hunter will seek worlds close to home

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Meet TESS, Seeker of Alien Worlds
As TESS moves inexorably towards the launch pad, the New York Times brings readers up to speed with the MIT-led mission.

"No earlier than 6:32 p.m. on April 16, in NASA’s fractured parlance, a little spacecraft known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or Tess, bristling with cameras and ambition, will ascend on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a blaze of smoke and fire from the old Apollo launching pad here and take up a lengthy residence between the moon and the Earth."

Read the March 26, 2018 New York Times story: Meet TESS, Seeker of Alien Worlds