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Astronomy

George R. Ricker plenary: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

A plenary talk from SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation 2014

11 July 2014, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.3201407.18

George R. Ricker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) seeks to discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances.

The TESS legacy will be a catalog of the nearest and brightest main-sequence stars hosting transiting exoplanets, which will endure as the most favorable targets for detailed future investigations. TESS has been selected by NASA for launch in 2017 as an Astrophysics Explorer mission.

George R. Ricker is Director of the CCD Laboratory at the MIT Kavli Institute and principal investigator (PI) for the TESS mission. His research interests are focused on the development of state-of-the-art photon detectors for astronomical satellite missions.

Ricker was PI for the international High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE) mission, a small satellite incorporating instruments from France, Japan, and the United States, which launched in October 2000. Built and integrated at MIT, HETE was the first satellite mission entirely devoted to the study of gamma-ray bursts. He was also PI for the CCD X-ray camera on the Japan-US ASCA mission (launched in 1993); Deputy-PI for the Chandra ACIS instrument (launched in 1999); and US PI for the X-ray CCD Camera on the Japan-US Astro-E1 mission.