Picking Planets from the TESS Catalog
With the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission last year, scientists are now preparing for the next step in the search for habitable worlds around distant stars. TESS will return a large amount of data on transiting exoplanets that could be targeted for future atmospheric characterization by upcoming missions like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). In building its catalog of transiting planets, TESS will leave an important legacy that will shape subsequent missions like JWST. It will be vital that scientists can efficiently sort through the TESS catalog to identify the best planets for further study.
A recent paper outlines two analytic metrics that will help identify the top ‘TESSplanet’ candidates for atmospheric characterization. The metrics were developed using a previously published catalog of simulatedTESS planets. Based on their results, the researchers predict that TESS could provide a sample of around 300 ‘high-quality atmospheric characterization targets,’ which includes some candidates down to the size of Earth.
The study, “A Framework for Prioritizing the TESS Planetary Candidates Most Amenable to Atmospheric Characterization” was published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The work was supported through NASA’s Habitable Worlds Program. The NASA Astrobiology Program provides resources for Habitable Worlds and other Research and Analysis programs within the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) that solicit proposals relevant to astrobiology research.