AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Abstract)

Volume 45 number 1 (2017)

Ryan J. Oelkers
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, 6301 Stevenson Center, Nashville, TN 37235; ryan.j.oelkers@vanderbilt.edu


(Abstract only) The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will be conducting a nearly all-sky, photometric survey over the course of two years, with a core mission goal to discover small transiting exoplanets orbiting nearby, bright stars. The satellite will obtain 30-minute cadence observations for more than 1 billion objects in the 26 TESS fields of view and 2-minute cadence observations of 200,000 to 400,000 selected stars. The TESS mission is expected to detect 1,500 transiting planet candidates, including 500 Earth-sized objects, over the course of its two-year mission. The choice of which stars to observe at the 2-minute cadence is driven by the need to detect small, transiting planets, leading to the selection of primarily bright, cool dwarfs. These stars will be 10 to 100 times brighter than the stars observed by Kepler, providing a unique opportunity for an amateur-professional collaboration to heavily contribute to candidate follow-up. I describe the TESS science mission, its current status and the mission’s photometric and spectroscopic follow-up needs.