NASA doubles down on exoplanets and SETI institute will be part of the search

Apr 22, 2013
An artist rednering of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) spacecraft, to be launched in 2017. The TESS mission's primary goal would be to identify terrestrial planets orbiting nearby stars.

NASA's Astrophysics Explorer Program has selected the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Mission to fly in 2017. TESS will follow in the footsteps of NASA's pioneering Kepler Mission, continuing the groundbreaking work of discovering Earth-size exoplanets. NASA selected TESS and another explorer mission after a competition that evaluated proposals for the best scientific value and most feasible development plans.

TESS will use an array of four telescopes to perform an all- to discover transiting exoplanets of all sizes in orbit around the nearest and brightest stars in the sky. Its goal is to identify in the of nearby stars that are best suited for extensive follow up observations and characterization. TESS will collect 10 times as much data during its two-year mission as Kepler did during its first two years. SETI Institute scientist Jon M. Jenkins, co-investigator for data processing for both TESS and Kepler, will lead the development, design and operations of the TESS Data Processing Group (DPG) at NASA Ames Research Center. The DPG will process the raw pixel data downlinked by TESS to detect the minuscule signatures of transiting exoplanets. The DPG team will leverage the experience of the Science Operations Center of the to develop a data processing facility that meets the rigorous requirements of the TESS mission at a low cost.

"It's extremely exciting to learn that the profound voyage of discovery that Kepler began in 2009 will continue with a mission to discover Earth's closest cousins," said Jon Jenkins. Most exoplanets discovered by Kepler are hundreds of lights years from Earth.

Explore further: How mighty Jupiter could have changed Earth's habitability

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting to know the Goldilocks planet

Mar 30, 2012

NASA's Kepler spacecraft is discovering a veritable avalanche of alien worlds.  Recent finds include planets with double suns, massive "super-Earths" and "hot Jupiters," and a miniature solar system.  ...

Kepler mission discovers 461 new planet candidates

Jan 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—NASA's Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's "habitable ...

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

6 hours ago

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

11 hours ago

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MaiioBihzon
2.1 / 5 (11) May 15, 2013
Its goal is to identify terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars


Sounds good to me. In our lifetimes ~ any year now, actually ~ a habitable world harboring a biosphere will be found. It might be awhile before that world is discovered to have a biosphere, but the world itself will be found soon. Maybe it already has.

Good to see the pace of advancement on this front continuing.

Now if we could just get a successor to the Terrestrial Planet Finder up and running...

Anyway, well done, NASA and SETI. Good on you, Jon Jenkins, and gooooooo, TESS!

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...