The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class spacecraft. Its two year mission is to perform an all-sky survey and observe hundreds of thousands of nearby stars in search of exoplanets. TESS is expected to find more than 3000 new exoplanets, including rocky Earth-sized planets in habitable zone of their parent star. This catalog of nearby exoplanets will allow observatories and future spacecraft to select targets for more detailed study. The mission is scheduled to launch no later than June 2018.
The main instrument on TESS is a set of four wide field-of-view charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras that will look for planets ranging from rocky Earth-sized ones to gas giants.
TESS will find new exoplanets using the transit method. This involves monitoring the brightness of stars and looking for temporary reductions in brightness caused by a planet crossing in front of its host star.
TESS will travel in a High Earth Orbit (HEO) with a period of 13.7 days. This results in a stable 2:1 resonance with the Moon, which means TESS will complete two orbits around Earth for every orbit of the Moon.
The TESS mission is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The spacecraft was built by Orbital ATK (OA). Additional partners in the mission include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI), MIT Lincoln Laboratory (LL), NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (SAO), and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).
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