After completing commissioning and initiating science data collection on July 25th, NASA’s newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, has now completed its first two 27-day science observation sectors and has begun delivering its wealth of data to the ground. The TESS data are being passed through the mission data pipeline at NASA’s Ames Research Center, referred to as the Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC). The science team has begun sifting through the data, searching for signals that look like promising candidate planets, that they plan to follow up using ground-based and space-based telescopes to confirm. The team began beta-testing the process by which the community is notified of these promising TESS Objects of Interest (TOIs) on September 5th. Announcements of compelling planet candidates have been submitted to preprint servers and await peer review and acceptance.
After a careful quality check and review of the results by the TESS team, the data for the majority of the Alerts from Sector 1 were deemed ready to share with the broader scientific community. MAST are hosting the SPOC Target Pixel Files, as well as the light curves and DV reports for those Alerts for which two-minute cadence data were collected. These data are being made available ahead of the full TESS first data release, and should still be considered preliminary. Short release notes are also available at MAST. Questions can be directed to the helpdesk for the GI program.