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Special Presentations

Characterizing small planets from the ground up

Presented by: Johanna Teske (Carnegie Observatories)
Category: Special Interest   Duration: 1 hour   Broadcast date: February 04, 2019
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With the launch in spring 2018 of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a new phase of exoplanet detection, follow-up, and characterization began. In this talk, I will describe the motivation and methodology behind a new ground-based survey I am leading to study small transiting planets detected by TESS. This survey, combining several different observational techniques, is designed to investigate whether super-Earth (~1-1.6 Rearth) and sub-Neptune (~2-3 Rearth) planets formed in the same way but were sculpted by post-formation processes and so appear different now, or formed differently from the start. The goal of this survey is to double the number of well-characterized small planets known at the start of TESS, while creating an unbiased sample for better constraining the small end of the mass-radius relation. The products of this survey and others like it will feed directly into near-term (JWST, SDSS-V) and longer-term (LUVOIR, HabEx, OST, EELTs) projects intended to measure exoplanet atmospheric compositions, detect evidence of life, and understand how common Earth-like planets are in the Galaxy.