Planet Hunters TESS

Exoplanets are planets outside of our solar system, orbiting stars beyond the Sun. You could discover the next one! Join the Planet Hunters TESS project, and you’ll learn how to read light curves - plots of light data from distant stars - to find telltale signals from orbiting exoplanets. Then you’ll examine data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission to begin your own search. Planet Hunters TESS is also available in Français, and Español.

Learn More

ages

18 and up

division

Solar System

where

Online

launched

2018

What you'll do

  • Examine light curves - data plots of light from distant stars - for the telltale pattern of a planet’s transit.
  • Connect with scientists and other citizen scientists to share what you are learning, ask questions, and learn together.

Requirements

  • Time to get started: 10 minutes to complete online training
  • Equipment: Internet connected device
  • Knowledge: None. The in-project tutorial and field guide provides all the instruction you’ll need.

Get started!

  1. Visit the project website
  2. Click “Classify” and complete the tutorial to learn how to read and annotate light curves.
  3. Start your hunt for an undiscovered exoplanet!

Learn More

Join the Planet Hunters Coffee Chat video series! Project leads cover relevant topics in a friendly, fun format. Want to see what you’ve missed? check out the Planet Hunters YouTube channel to access videos explaining the transit method and how citizen scientists can get involved. 

New to exoplanets? Explore the (beautifully illustrated!) ABC’s of Exoplanets! Click on a letter to get started. 

This data visualization is presented as white text on a blue-green background. The Y axis is labeled “Brightness” and has numbers from 1 at the top down to -40 at the bottom. The X axis is labeled “Days” and is numbered 1 to 26 from left to right. The light curve itself is made from a series of light readings, each represented by a dot. The majority of dots appear right around the “0” reading on the brightness axis. There are seven places in the graph where the brightness drops down to nearly -40. These drops occur regularly through time. These dips in light strength and their regularity indicate the possible orbit of a planet or two.
A sample light curve from the Planet Hunters TESS project. Each dot represents the strength of the light signal from a distant star measured at a moment in time. Decreases in the signal strength (dots that appear lower on the plot) may indicate the presence of an orbiting planet that periodically blocks the light from the star.
A fiery red star nearly fills the image frame. A jet of plasma erupts from its surface in the upper right of the image. In the lower left a silvery brown planet is just beginning to transit, or cross in front of, the sun. While we can’t see its surface in detail, we can see the suggestion of mountain ridges and oceans.
Image of a star similar to our Sun with a planet passing in front of it.
Credit: Nora Eisner (star adapted from NASA image)
text reading “The ABCs of Exoplanets: A painted exploration of the whats and whys of star-orbiting planets outside our solar system” appears in a font reminiscent of artistic handwriting. The background shows the hazy outline of a planet in yellows and pinks against a star-studded sky.
Promotional poster of The ABCs of Exoplanets project.
Portrait photo of smiling young woman with her hand pushing her long dark hair out of her face

Nora Eisner

Astronomer

Portrait photo of a young smiling man

Guiseppe Pappa

Citizen Scientist / Radiologist Technologist at Humanitas Catanese

Portrait photo of a man wearing glasses

Frank Barnett

Citizen Scientist / Associate Professor of Mathematics

Portrait photo of a man in a suit.

Peter Ansorge

Citizen Scientist / Business Consultant

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Timo van der Straeten

Citizen Scientist / Mechanical Engineer Technician

Chris Lintott

Zooniverse Team