Three Confirmed TESS Planets Caption: Artist’s image of the three confirmed TESS exoplanets. Image Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS
During the first six months of its two-year mission, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovered three confirmed planets and many planet candidates while also observing other astronomical phenomena such as supernovae, asteroids, comets, and eclipsing binary stars.
Launched in April 2018, TESS is equipped with four cameras that will search nearly the entire sky within a radius of approximately 200 light years of our Sun. Every month, the spacecraft will search a 24 X 96-degree sector of the sky, looking for dimming of stars caused by orbiting planets passing in front of them.
An artist’s visualization of the exoplanet Pi Mensae c. Image Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS
Because the stars being observed are relatively nearby, TESS discoveries can be followed up with observations of the systems where planets are found by scientists using both ground-based telescopes and other space-based observatories, including the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set for launch in 2021.
In just its first few days, TESS returned more than a million images. To date, it has probed six sectors, discovering more than 300 planet candidates and capturing images of six supernova explosions.