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The science team for the U.S.’s exoplanet space telescope TESS this week released its first batch of exoplanet candidates.
TESS scientists released the list so that other astronomers could make an initial determination as to whether these candidates are planets. There are 73 objects in this first batch, including some planets previously known from ground-based searches, says George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Perhaps 5 to 20% of the objects on the list will turn out to be false alarms, he says. Others, if confirmed, will join the ranks of newly discovered exoplanets.
Researchers expect TESS to find as many as 10,000 large planets. But its main goal is to discover and measure the masses of at least 50 small worlds no more than four times the size of Earth.
Meanwhile, Kepler has resumed operations despite being almost out of fuel. The science team there is attempting to squeeze every last ounce of data it can before the spacecraft’s fuel runs out.