What does TESS have to offer to humanity?

The most famous space telescope is undoubtedly the Hubble Telescope, launched in April 1999, which will soon be followed by the yet to be launched James Webb Telescope. TESS is less well known, but no less interesting: a fighter planet. This telescope scans the sky for exoplanets, preferably planets with roughly the same characteristics as our Earth, so that life may be present.

TESS is the successor to the Kepler telescope, which gave the tube to Martin after 9 years of loyal service and about 4,500 discovered exoplanets. Several exoplanets recently discovered thanks to TESS. The planets discovered by TESS have the letters T, O and I in their names, which stands for TESS Object of Interest.

TESS has now surveyed about 85% of the celestial sphere. What have we made so far? There are currently 3,363 TOIs, which don’t necessarily have to be exoplanets yet. For example, they can also be errors in measurement. There are 129 confirmed exoplanets discovered by TESS so far.

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Of the TESS objects of interest, 760 have a radius of four times the diameter of Earth. This makes it even more interesting in our search for extraterrestrial life. In 2019, TESS was in the news because this telescope showed how a black hole ripped a star to shreds. Since TESS has been photographing this part of the universe for a while, astronomers have been able to look back in time and see exactly how this process works.

In the meantime, TESS has not collected its latest data yet, so it is likely that we will receive many more exoplanets and other discoveries from this telescope.

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Megan Vasquez

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