Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS is a new space telescope and is the new step NASA is taking towards finding new planets outside the Solar System, including the exoplanets capable of sustaining life.
Designed to search for exoplanets by the transit method, TESS is built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and its launch was announced for 2018, no later than June.
The TESS telescope will cover a region of the sky 400 times larger than Kepler (the actual NASA satellite for observing exoplanets)
TESS will observe 200,000 of the brightest stars in the relative proximity of the Sun.
NASA researchers expect TESS to catalog over 3,000 new planets, increasing the number of known exoplanets considerably. Of these, approximately 300 should be planets of the same size or twice as large as the Earth.
TESS has the mission to discover the most promising exoplanets capable of sustaining life, so identifying a series of new targets for future studies.
The stars to be studied by TESS are 30 to 100 times brighter than those observed by the Kepler Space Telescope, which will make it easier to continue observing with other telescopes, whether spatial or terrestrial, once TESS identifies a target requiring several observations.
TESS will cover a region of the sky 400 times larger than Kepler can do.
TESS will “work” with James Webb space telescope
The possible exoplanets to be discovered by TESS will be listed in a catalog and then confirmed by observations with other telescopes.
Observations from Earth will be used to measure the mass of the different planets discovered by TESS. Once scientists know the size, orbit, and the mass of a planet, they will be able to determine its composition – if it is a tellurian planet of the same family with the Earth or if it is a gaseous planet, such as Jupiter or Saturn, or whether it’s a yet unknown “exotic” type of planet.
When TESS telescope will discover an exoplanet capable of sustaining life, the James Webb space telescope will come into play. James Webb will replace the Hubble Space Telescope in the near future and will be so powerful that it will also allow the study of the atmospheres of the exoplanets planets.