In April 2018, NASA launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite tv for pc (TESS), the successor to the Kepler House Telescope that revolutionized the exoplanet research area. Like its predecessor, TESS has been scanning nearly all the sky for 5 years for extrasolar planets utilizing the Transit Technique. This consists of monitoring hundreds of stars for periodic dips in brightness, which can point out a planet passing in entrance of the star relative to the observer. So far, TESS has made 243 confirmed discoveries, with one other 4562 candidates – or TESS Objects of Curiosity (TOI) – awaiting affirmation.
On Monday, October tenth, followers of the TESS mission and the analysis it conducts acquired a little bit of a scare because the observatory skilled a malfunction and needed to be put into secure mode. Three days later, at round 06:30 PM EDT (03:30 PM PDT) on October thirteenth, NASA introduced that their engineers had efficiently powered up the instrument and introduced it again on-line. Whereas technicians at NASA are nonetheless investigating the reason for the malfunction, the spacecraft is now again in its fine-pointing mode and has resumed its second prolonged mission (EM2).
For causes which are nonetheless unknown right now, TESS needed to be put into secure mode following a reset of its flight pc. This failsafe suspends science operations and locations the telescope right into a secure configuration till the mission staff can decide the supply of the issue. When in secure mode, any data that has not but been downlinked to mission management might be safely saved aboard the area telescope’s pc for later retrieval.
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TESS will survey the sky in a sequence of 13 observing segments, every 27-days lengthy. Credit score: NASA/MIT
On October twelfth, the TESS operations staff reported that science information had been safely saved and that it may take a number of days earlier than the telescope resumed regular operations. A day later, they introduced that they’d efficiently restored energy to the telescope and commenced restoration procedures. As of the newest replace from NASA (Friday, October 14th), TESS has reportedly resumed regular science operations, and all of the science information saved on board might be downlinked on the subsequent obtainable alternative.
This hiccup occurred throughout what has confirmed to be a promising yr for the TESS mission. It started with the satellite tv for pc being a part of a Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Senior Review, an unbiased comparative review that NASA periodically conducts of its operational missions. This was the second time TESS was included in a Senior Review because it launched in 2018, the earlier happening in 2019. In each circumstances, TESS obtained excessive rankings for its many discoveries, together with exoplanets and different cosmic phenomena like star-shredding black holes and stellar oscillations.
As well as, TESS entered Yr 5 of its exoplanet-hunting marketing campaign, which can run from September 2022 to September 2023. As a part of this marketing campaign, the exoplanet finder will scan 5 extra sectors within the northern hemisphere, adopted by 9 extra within the southern hemisphere. It’s going to additionally present 200-second full-frame photos (FFIs) for every sector, in comparison with 10-minute FFIs within the first prolonged mission (EM1) and the 30-minute FFIs throughout its major mission. It will create an unprecedented cadence of photos for TESS’s full area of view and guarantees to result in many thrilling discoveries.
Illustration of the TESS area of view. Credit score: NASA/MIT
For Yr 6, TESS will full its scan of the southern hemisphere, return to the ecliptic to scan three extra sectors, then survey eleven extra sectors within the northern hemisphere. The second mission extension (EM2) will then conclude by October 2024.
Within the meantime, NASA engineers are nonetheless trying to find the reason for the malfunction. Additional updates might be posted on the NASA TESS mission web page or the mission staff’s web page at MIT.
Additional Studying: NASA