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Introducing TESS and ExoMAST

J. Tumlinson (tumlinson[at]stsci.edu) and A. Smith (arfon[at]stsci.edu)

This year is an exciting time for exoplanet science at STScI. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite (TESS) launched from Cape Canaveral on April 18 and began collecting science data over the summer. TESS will monitor the time-dependent brightness of 200,000 stars with the main goal of detecting 50 small, rocky planets with measured masses. TESS does this with four identical cameras of 24 × 24 degree field of view that image the sky at two-second intervals. Postage stamps of the 200,000 targeted stars will be downloaded at a two-minute cadence as part of the main planet searches. Full-frame images, which will also be available via MAST, will be obtained every 30 minutes to enable a wide range of additional science projects, including exoplanets, stellar astrophysics, and transients.

STScI’s Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) is the archive for all TESS data. MAST already holds the TESS End-to-End simulated data (“ETE-6”) and the TESS input catalog of stars (the “TIC”). The first two sectors of flight data are currently being prepared for release—see the websites below for the date of this release.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include STScI, Northrop Grumman, NASA/Ames, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. To keep up to date on TESS developments, check archive.stsci.edu/tess, tess.mit.edu, and tess.gsfc.nasa.gov, or follow @NASA_TESS and @TESSatMIT on Twitter. This field from all four cameras includes both Magellanic Clouds, which are dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, as well as a number of globular clusters and bright nearby stars. 

Figure 1. Tess first light
Figure 1:  The "First Light" image from TESS. This composite image from all four cameras shows the two Magellanic Clouds, which are dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, as well as a number of nearby globular clusters and bright stars. Image from NASA/MIT/TESS

MAST is also proud to present “ExoMAST,” a new science portal devoted to consolidating MAST’s exoplanet holdings under an easy-to-use interface (https://exo.mast.stsci.edu). Searching on a planet’s name yields metadata on the star, planet, and system properties, links to all of MAST’s data on that planet, and direct links to the metadata source publications in the ADS. Furthermore, there is an Application Programming Interface (API), that can be integrated with other software packages to enable large searches on various properties of the planet and system. ExoMAST is a collaboration between MAST and STScI’s Data Science Mission Office.

Figure 2
Figure 2:  This screen capture from ExoMAST shows the format of the comprehensive page returned by a search on the planet GJ 1214b. Planet, star, and system data is tabulated at upper left, a published transmission spectrum is shown at the upper right, and a table of all MAST's holdings from its various missions is below.