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Tranisiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to Launch April 16, 2018
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Tranisiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to Launch April 16, 2018

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is slated to launch at 6:30 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2018, initiating a search for Earth’s nearest rocky exoplanet neighbors. NASA Ames Research Center is responsible for the Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC), which will process the image data collected aboard the observatory to calibrate and measure the brightness variations of the 200,000+ target stars observed over the two-year primary mission and search for signatures of small transiting exoplanets in the data. The SPOC will export all the calibrated pixels, light curves, and transit search data products to the Payload Operations Center (POC) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for distribution to the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). TESS is led by Dr. George Ricker (PI) at MIT.

BACKGROUND: The TESS Mission was selected for flight as an Astrophysics Explorer Mission in 2013 to search for nearby small, rocky planets best suited for follow up and characterization with assets such as the James Webb Space Telescope and other astronomical telescopes and observatories. TESS builds on the success of the Kepler Mission as the next step in the process of determining whether there are habitable worlds in the solar neighborhood. TESS has been under design and development since selection in 2013, and the observatory for processing and mating with its flight vehicle, a SpaceX Falcon 9, is currently at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: TESS is an Astrophysics Explorer Mission funded by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD).

TEAM:Jon M. Jenkins (CO-I); Misty Davies and Joseph Twicken


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