PSJC #114 March 28, 2012

Drake Deming (U. Maryland)

Transiting Exoplanets: From Kepler to TESS

Over the past decade hundreds of extrasolar planets have been discovered transiting their stars. The Kepler mission has increased the number to thousands, and has shown that small rocky and/or icy planets are common, especially orbiting low mass stars. But Kepler samples relatively distant stars, and we look forward to discovering a habitable rocky planet transiting a star very near to the Sun, where transit spectroscopy could be used to measure the major molecular content of its atmosphere. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will search for such a world beginning in 2017, and follow-up observations by the James Webb Space Telescope will characterize the atmosphere of that nearby habitable planet.