NASA’s TESS Telescope Finishes First Planet-hunting Mission


NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or simply TESS, has finished its first mission. The space telescope has spent two years surveying the sky for proof of exoplanets.

TESS wrapped up its mission back in July with 66 now confirmed exoplanets and 2,100 candidates. Such results represent a massive pile of data for researchers to look over, and TESS isn’t done yet. Here is what you need to know.

TESS’ Extraordinary First Mission Ends and Brings Significant Data

NASA’s TESS satellite launched back in April 2018 with the support of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After all the systems were verified, the space telescope began its work. 

The TESS mission is like a spiritual successor to the famous Kepler, which was troubled by some hardware issues many years ago. NASA retired Kepler just a few months after TESS began its mission. 

TESS and Kepler are somehow alike. They both used the transit procedure to detect exoplanets – it looks after repeating nits in luminance from stars, which could point to a planet passing between the star and our planet. But, TESS has four wide-angle telescopes, enabling it to survey significant parts of the sky as it orbits. NASA named such a thing, an “all-sky transiting exoplanet survey” because the space telescope was developed to collect unobstructed panoramic data from both the southern and northern hemispheres. 

Unlike Kepler, TESS only spotted stars to a length of 300-light years, while the first looked much farther away, but in a restricted field of view. 

TESS’s findings include an Earth-like exoplanet HD 21749c, a star slipping into a black hole, and three planets in the GJ 357 system. NASA introduced enhanced observation and processing technology and plans now to collect even more data. TESS will soon be able to capture images of the sky every 10 minutes, which is three times faster than its first mission.

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