The Hubble Space Telescope has been studying the cosmos for over a quarter century. Hubble detected the first transiting exoplanet in XX, and has since made major contributions to characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets, including the detection of water, carbon, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and methane in exoplanet atmospheres.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is NASA’s newest exoplanet hunting mission. Launched in April 2018, TESS is an all-sky survey that will discover thousands of exoplanets around nearby bright stars. Collaboration with ground-based telescopes will help us measure the mass of many of these planets. TESS’ legacy will be a catalog of the best planets for characterization by Hubble and JWST.
The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is NASA’s next flagship mission after Webb. WFIRST is an infrared space observatory that will answer key questions in cosmology and astrophysics, with a major component of the mission focused on exoplanets. WFIRST will have a wide-field instrument to search for long-period exoplanets using gravitational microlensing, and a coronagraph instrument for direct imaging of exoplanets.
The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, is an infrared observatory that will answer big questions in all areas of astrophysics, including exoplanets. Webb has several instruments for transit spectroscopy to characterize exoplanet atmospheres, and will also carry coronagraphs to enable direct imaging of exoplanets near bright stars.