Transcripts of 13663_TESS_2nd_Anniversary_Highlights

[Music throughout] TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is NASA’s newest planet hunter. The mission has operated for two years and has now mapped about 75% of the sky. This enormous area of coverage gives scientists unprecedented opportunities to search for new worlds beyond our solar system as well as other cosmic phenomena. TESS completed its initial sky survey in July 2020. This giant mosaic is made from 26 sector images. Each sector is a 24-by-96-degree strip of sky, monitored by TESS’s four cameras for about a month. Here are some of the noteworthy discoveries from TESS’s second year. TESS discovered a trio of planets around GJ-357, a red dwarf star just 31 light-years away. The system’s farthest planet, with about six times Earth’s mass, is especially intriguing. It orbits in the outer part of the star’s habitable zone. If this planet has an atmosphere thick enough to keep its surface warm, liquid water could exist there. TESS found another planetary trio around the star L98-59. The innermost world is the littlest found by TESS, and is 20% smaller than Earth. Later, scientists announced TESS had observed a star being torn apart by a black hole. Catching one of these tidal disruption events showcases the mission’s ability to spot many kinds of short-lived phenomena, like stellar outbursts and supernovae, underscoring TESS’s importance for studies beyond exoplanets. In early 2020, scientists announced TESS’s first Earth-size planet orbiting in its star’s habitable zone. This world, called TOI 700 d, is a little larger than Earth and probably rocky. Based on TESS and Spitzer data, researchers were even able to model potential weather systems. Analysis of the planet’s atmosphere, if it has one, will have to await future space-based observatories like NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Missons like TESS — and later Webb — help contribute to the field of astrobiology, the interdisciplinary research on the variables and conditions of distant worlds that could harbor life as we know it. TESS has found many systems different from our own. TOI 1338 has a Neptune-size planet orbiting a pair of stars. KELT-9 has a fast-spinning star with hot poles and a cooler equator. KELT-9 b orbits over the poles, resulting in star-induced seasons that only last a few hours. Now that its primary mission is complete, TESS will return to the southern sky for another yearlong survey. Many new planets, as well as more brief cataclysmic events, await astronomers as they scour the flood of TESS observations. Explore: solar system & beyond NASA