The tess mission target selection procedure

Michael Fausnaugh, Ed Morgan, Roland Vanderspek, Joshua Pepper, Christopher J. Burke, Alan M. Levine, Alexander Rudat, Jesus Noel S. Villaseñor, Michael Vezie, Robert F. Goeke, George R. Ricker, David W. Latham, S. Seager, Joshua N. Winn, Jon M. Jenkins, G. Bakos, Thomas Barclay, Zachory K. Berta-Thompson, Luke G. Bouma, Patricia T. BoydC. E. Brasseur, Jennifer Burt, Douglas A. Caldwell, David Charbonneau, J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, Mark Clampin, Karen A. Collins, Knicole D. Colón, Nathan De Lee, Edward Dunham, Scott W. Fleming, William Fong, Aylin Garcia Soto, B. Scott Gaudi, Natalia M. Guerrero, Katharine Hesse, Matthew J. Holman, Chelsea X. Huang, Lisa Kaltenegger, Jack J. Lissauer, Scott McDermott, Brian McLean, Ismael Mireles, Susan E. Mullally, Ryan J. Oelkers, Martin Paegert, András Pál, Elisa V. Quintana, S. A. Rinehart, David R. Rodriguez, Mark Rose, Dimitar D. Sasselov, Joshua E. Schlieder, Lizhou Sha, Avi Shporer, Jeffrey C. Smith, Keivan G. Stassun, Peter Tenenbaum, Eric B. Ting, Guillermo Torres, Joseph D. Twicken, Andrew Vanderburg, Bill Wohler, Liang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We describe the target selection procedure by which stars are selected for 2 minute and 20 s observations by TESS. We first list the technical requirements of the TESS instrument and ground systems processing that limit the total number of target slots. We then describe algorithms used by the TESS Payload Operation Center (POC) to merge candidate targets requested by the various TESS mission elements (the Target Selection Working Group, TESS Asteroseismic Science Consortium, and Guest Investigator office). Lastly, we summarize the properties of the observed TESS targets over the two-year primary TESS mission. We find that the POC target selection algorithm results in 2.1–3.4 times as many observed targets as target slots allocated for each mission element. We also find that the sky distribution of observed targets is different from the sky distributions of candidate targets due to technical constraints that require a relatively even distribution of targets across the TESS fields of view. We caution researchers exploring statistical analyses of TESS planet-host stars that the population of observed targets cannot be characterized by any simple set of criteria applied to the properties of the input Candidate Target Lists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number095002
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number1027
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Exoplanets (498)
  • Transit instruments (1708)


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