Transcripts of 12850_TESS_Overview_1080

Narrator: In the last few decades we have found thousands of worlds around other stars. A new NASA astrophysics mission will help us find many more. Elisa Quintana: TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is NASA's newest exoplanet mission. It's being led out of MIT, and it's going to find thousands of new planets orbiting bright nearby stars. And it's going to build upon the legacy of the Kepler mission, only it's going focus on nearby bright stars that are sprinkled across the whole sky, and it's going to help us answer a really important question. And that is: which of our nearest stellar neighbors has planets? Narrator: During its two year survey, TESS will look for signs of planets, ranging from Earth size, to giants larger than Jupiter. TESS will search for these new worlds, or exoplanets, using transits, the same method as the Kepler mission. As a planet passes in front of its star, it blocks some of the light, causing a slight drop in brightness. TESS can detect those subtle dips, and even use them to determine some basic features of the planets, such as their size, and orbit. Each of TESS's cameras has a 16.8-megapixel sensor, covering a 24-degree square-- large enough to contain an entire constellation. TESS has four of these cameras, arranged to view a vertical strip of the sky, called an observation sector. George Ricker: The coverage of the TESS cameras is unprecidented in terms of the amount of sky that they can actually see at any given time and also their ability to cover such a broad portion of the sky. The types of targets that TESS will allow us to find, will enclose essentially all of the bright nearby stars. Narrator: TESS will watch each observation sector for about 27 days before rotating to next one, covering first the south, and then the north to eventually build a map of 85 percent of the sky. This coverage--about 350 times what Kepler first observed--will make TESS the first exoplanet mission to survey almost the entire sky. TESS will fly in a highly elliptical orbit that maximizes the amount of sky the spacecraft can image and is carefully timed with the orbit of the moon. It will spend most of each 13.7 day orbit collecting data, and then, as it passes closer to Earth, it will transmit that data to the ground. Because TESS's observation sectors overlap, it will have an area near the pole under constant observation. This region is easily monitored by the James Webb Space Telescope, which allows the two missions to work together to first find, and then carefully study exoplanets. Since most of the exoplanets found by TESS will orbit bright stars, missions like Webb will be able to measure the spectra of starlight absorbed by the planets' atmospheres, which can indicate what they're made of. Ground-based measurements of the TESS Exoplanets can determine their masses. Combining the masses with TESS's size measurements reveals densities, allowing scientists to better understand the exoplanets' compositions. Jennifer Burt: The thing that we're really excited about with TESS is the way that it'll actually build on the momentum that we started with Kepler. So TESS is going to take that same search approach, but apply it to the vast majority of the sky, which still hasn't really been looked at in detail when searching for exoplanets. And by focusing especially on planets that orbit bright nearby stars, TESS allows us to start looking at things like composition and atmospheric makeup, and that'll then be crucial when we want to start looking around stars that are even further away and in deeper parts of the galaxy as well. Narrator: TESS is the vanguard of a new era of exoplanet study, and will forever expand our understanding of worlds beyond our own. ♪Music♪ ♪Music♪ [Beeping] [Beeping]