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10/03/19: SO/NSF’s OIR Lab Joint Colloquium Series: Diana Dragomir, Univ. of New Mexico


Title: Highlights from TESS’ First Bright Year and Future Plans

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has just passed the halfway point of its 2-year primary mission. TESS has generated so many exciting discoveries - both within and without the exoplanet field - even just during its first few months, that a 2.2-year extended mission has already been approved by NASA. I will highlight the key results so far, including a number of unusual new planetary systems. I will also describe the vibrant community process that leads from the discovery to the confirmation of TESS exoplanets. The most conspicuous legacy that TESS promises to leave is the discovery of individual systems suitable for detailed atmospheric characterization. I will argue however that the survey can prompt a revolution in exoplanet research simply by considerably increasing the number of small planets transiting bright stars. These planets will be accessible to a wide swath of follow-up observations, including measurements of their mass, dynamical properties and system architecture, as well as the precise characterization of their host stars. The exoplanet community will be able to leverage this enhanced ensemble to uncover new statistical trends and gain deeper insights into the composition, dynamical evolution, and ultimately the formation of small exoplanets. Last but most definitely not least, I will also discuss TESS’ growing impact on solar system, stellar, galactic and extragalactic science.