Whereas we stay our each day lives, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite tv for pc (TESS) scans the skies for planets outdoors our personal photo voltaic system. Such planets are known as expolanets, and TESS has already found 28 of them since April 2018.
This previous week, TESS scientists at NASA answered questions on Reddit and offered extra details about TESS and it’s discoveries.
Listed here are a couple of nice questions that have been requested and their solutions:
What’s the distinction between TESS and the earlier Kepler mission?
TESS is trying to find planets round our nearest stellar neighbors, so stars which might be brilliant. After we discover planets round brilliant stars, we will use all of our floor and space-based telescopes to be taught extra in regards to the planets, like whether or not they have atmospheres, and what they’re manufactured from (are they rocky? Icy? Or some unusual water world?) TESS will discover many planets which might be appropriate for the James Webb Area Telescope to watch, and that can be tremendous thrilling as a result of Webb can have a lot of devices that may train us an amazing quantity in regards to the planets’ atmospheres.
What standards do you utilize to pick out a possible system for investigation and the place does that information come from?
The group on the TESS Science Workplace at MIT makes use of software program to pare down the tens of 1000’s of alerts TESS detects as potential planets to an inventory of some hundred. We additionally prioritize planet candidates primarily based on how simple it’s for ground-based telescopes to watch them–brighter stars that are comparatively calm in their very own flaring habits and in a transparent discipline that has few close by stars in the way in which are very best!
What’s the course of and timeline of going from uncooked information to a broadcast planet discovery?
It’s really comparatively fast, solely taking a couple of months for the preliminary steps! TESS beams information again to Earth, the place it’s analyzed by information pipelines at NASA Ames and MIT, and picks out mild curves (the change in brightness over time of a star) for the hundreds of thousands of particular person stars within the TESS photographs. Planet search software program instruments sift out the sunshine curves with patterns that appear like a transit of a planet, and vetters determine one of the best planet candidates by eye. Comply with-up observers world wide use telescopes on Earth and in area to check these planet candidates in additional element, and make sure whether or not they’re really planets, and if that’s the case, what they’re like.
What’s the farthest that TESS can see and confidently produce usable information?
TESS has a brightness restrict, not a distance restrict. Persons are utilizing TESS to find supernovae hundreds of thousands of sunshine years away, regardless that its particular mission is to check stars inside 100 mild years of us. A lot of persons are utilizing TESS to do actually cool science on galaxies throughout the universe!
How a lot of the sky has TESS coated to date?
TESS simply ended the primary half of its unique 2 yr mission, so it has noticed about 40% of the sky. This subsequent yr will hit one other 40%, after which it would transfer into its first prolonged mission subsequent yr will it would begin going again to reobserve some areas and likewise cowl about half of the 20% that it missed the primary time round.
Tess was initially deliberate as a two yr mission to final between 2018 and 2020. Just lately, the mission was permitted for a two yr extension which is able to present extra time for TESS to search for exoplanets.
To be taught extra about TESS and just lately found exoplanets visit NASA.