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About TESS

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an all-sky transit survey, whose principal goal is to detect Earth-sized planets orbiting bright stars that are amenable to follow-up observations to determine planet masses and atmospheric compositions. TESS will conduct high-precision photometry of more than 200,000 stars during a two-year mission with a cadence of approximately 2 minutes. These targets will be read-out as postage stamps and be made available to the community as target pixel files (TPFs) and calibrated light curves. In addition, the full image frame will be read out approximately every 30 minutes. These Full Frame Images (FFIs) will enable users to conduct photometry on any target within the 24x96 degree field-of-view.

TESS will launch no earlier than March 2018. In preparation for the call for Guest Investigator proposals, the TESS Input Catalog (TIC) will be released no earlier than the end of April 2017. The TIC is a catalog of every optically luminous, persistent object in the sky that extends down to the limiting magnitudes of its component catalogs. The TIC contains more than half a billion objects, and includes catalog information from Gaia, 2MASS, SDSS, ALLWISE, APASS, Tycho-2, UCAC4, LAMOST, RAVE, APOGEE, KIC and EPIC. The TIC will allow users to:

  1. Look-up information, including coordinates and stellar properties, for any target the TESS mission produces a light curve of.
  2. Enable selection of the planet search stars, which includes consideration of background flux contamination levels.
  3. Provide stellar parameters, such as stellar radii, which the processing pipeline will use when calculating planet properties.
  4. Facilitate false positive detection, including background sources.

In addition to the TIC, a TESS Candidate Target List (CTL) is available. The CTL is a subset of the TIC, whose purpose is to provide a set of stars optimized to enable the TESS primary objectives. A majority of the 2-minute cadence targets will be selected from the CTL catalog.