Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

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Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Blog Image


Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an international team of astronomers recently detected a new exoplanet orbiting a distant star.

About Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS):

  • It is a NASA mission to discover exoplanets around nearby bright stars.
  • Launch: It was launched on April 18, 2018, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket out of Cape Canaveral.
  • Orbit: TESS circles Earth in a unique high Earth orbit of 12 to 15 days, which is inclined in a way that the telescope’s sky view is largely free from obstructions by our bright planet and the Moon.
  • The prime mission ended on July 4, 2020, and TESS is now on an extended mission.
  • TESS is finding planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to giant planets, showcasing the diversity of planets in the galaxy.
  • How does TESS find exoplanets?
    • It uses the transit method to detect planets.
    • It looks for periodic dips in stars' brightness as planets cross in front of them along our sightline.
    • The larger the planet, the further the drop in brightness during the transit. 
    • How long it takes a planet to pass in front of the star and come back tells us the shape of its orbit.
    • This method reveals the diameter of the planet and the size of its orbitOrbits within a certain range lie in the “habitable zone”, where liquid water can exist on the surface of an Earth-like world.


Q1) What is an Exoplanet?

All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets.

Source: New low-density exoplanet discovered with TESS