TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is NASA’s newest exoplanet mission. Led by MIT, TESS will find thousands of new planets orbiting nearby stars. During its two year survey, TESS will watch a wide variety of stars, looking for signs of planets ranging from Earth-size to larger than Jupiter.
Each of TESS’s cameras has a 16.8-megapixel sensor covering a square 24 degrees wide — large enough to contain an entire constellation. TESS has four of these cameras arranged to view a long strip of the sky called an observation sector. TESS will watch each observation sector for about 27 days before rotating to the next. It will cover the southern sky in its first year, and then begin scanning the north.
TESS will study 85 percent of the sky — an area 350 times greater than what NASA’s Kepler mission first observed — making TESS the first exoplanet mission to survey nearly the entire sky. 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.