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Aldrich member Kevin Boucher is accepted into NASA TESS TFOP program

Well let’s first explain what all these NASA acronyms mean.

TESS means Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets. TESS launched on April 18, 2018, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

TFOP means TESS Follow-up Observing Program. Specifically Kevin was accepted into the TFOP sub-group called SG1. The purpose of this sub-group is to produce light curves as seen below that analyze in much greater detail whether the transit of the star was by an exoplanet, an eclipsing binary star, or some other object.

This light curve was produced by Kevin Boucher of a known exoplanet XO-5b to prove his skill-set for acceptance in NASA TFOP program

Kevin has been producing pictures of astronomy targets in the night sky for close to 20 years. The idea of using these same skills to produce real publishable science papers was a real attraction. Especially once he retired in 2016. So being accepted into this program was a culmination of a long-time dream. He says he will never stop taking those pretty pictures but this opportunity uses the same skill set and creates a nice synergy of art and science.

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4 Responses so far.

  1. kiml says:

    Congratulations Kevin. So now what… do they assign you raw data set(s) to analyze??
    regards, Kim

    • kevinboucher says:

      Hi Kim,

      Thank you very much…

      Actually I create the data-sets myself with my home telescope. Just like I did for the light-curve that got me accepted. Basically I get emails about priority targets, and have access to the NASA TESS database so I can look for my own transit candidates in my night sky for any clear evening I can capture data. I then create the light curves…use different filters to see if this is an actual exoplanet transit or maybe an eclipsing binary. Or maybe an eclipsing binary in one of the nearby stars because the TESS sensor has such large pixels it can cover numerous stars so this happens. Then after I do the analysis I report it all to NASA TESS database provided for professionals to follow up with big observatories, if needed.


  2. NCarver says:

    Very cool Kevin! I heard about the follow-up program a couple years back at NEIAC.