NASA's TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Mission in Pictures

A Vision of TESS

Chris Meaney/NASA Goddard

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which is scheduled to launch to Earth orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 16, 2018, will hunt for alien planets like never before. See photos and images from the exoplanet-hunting mission here.

In Search of Exoplanets

Chris Meaney/NASA Goddard

TESS is outfitted with four sensitive cameras, which are designed to detect the tiny dips in brightness caused when planets cross their host stars' faces.

Finding Its Home


This image shows TESS' trajectory from launch to its final mission orbit. The green line represents the phasing loops before a key lunar flyby. The yellow line is the resulting trajectory from the flyby, and the red line shows the final orbit, which no spacecraft has ever employed before.

The Brains

Pat Izzo/NASA Goddard

Chad Mendelsohn, Trevor Williams and Don Dichmann — engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland — helped formulate TESS' unique and highly stable orbit.

Start to Finish


An overview of the TESS mission.



Many partners and subcontractors brought the TESS mission to life.

The Next Phase

Ben Smegelsky/NASA

Technicians dressed in cleanroom suits move the TESS spacecraft, which is secured on a test stand inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Inside the PHSF, the satellite will be processed and prepared for liftoff, which is scheduled to take place atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 16, 2018.

Proud Team Members


Engineers and technicians pose with the TESS cameras before their installation onto the spacecraft.

Assembled at the PHSF

Kim Shiflett/NASA

A look at TESS inside the PHSF at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Future of Searches

Orbital ATK

The fully integrated TESS will launch in April 2018 to hunt for planets orbiting nearby stars. The mission is expected to discover thousands of new worlds.

Ready for Fitting

Orbital ATK

The TESS spacecraft awaits installation of cameras and other instruments.

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