The past three decades of observational astronomy have led to the discovery of the first known exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. Since the first exoplanets were found in the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of additional discoveries have shown us that planets are ubiquitous in the Milky Way and even outnumber stars in our galaxy. Now, that we know these planets exist, our challenge is to probe their detailed properties and answer questions like "What are these planets like?", "Are these worlds similar to the ones in our Solar System, or different from anything we know?", and "Could any of these planets host life?". As a first step in this direction, we have launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission into Earth orbit. TESS's goal is to conduct a census of our closest planetary neighbors and identify the best planets to study in detail to answer these questions. I will review the TESS mission, show some of its early results, and highlight a particularly interesting discovery that shows the possible future of our own solar system.
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Vanderburg
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This event has been rescheduled for September 3, 2023
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