NASA's newest planet hunter telescope shares first science image

TESS sky image

TESS has been built upon the legacy of Kepler spacecraft of NASA, as it also utilizes the transits to find out exoplanets. The spacecraft launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 18 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and used a flyby of the Moon on May 17 to head toward its science orbit.

"This first light science image shows the capabilities of TESS' cameras, and shows that the mission will realize its incredible potential in our search for another Earth", Hertz said. During its first year of operations, the satellite will study the 13 sectors making up the southern sky.

This Monday was NASA's occasion of displaying the "first light" images of the southern sky, captured by TESS and beamed back to Earth. TESS has given light images before but with only one camera in its testing phase. The image above is just a portion of the full image - the bright part on the right is the Large Magellanic Cloud, while the bright star R Doradus is on the left.

Part of the data TESS has finally been able to send to its team on the ground includes a very detailed photo of the southern sky, which was taken using all four of the satellite's wide-field cameras. The brightest stars within the image, Beta Gruis and R Doradus, saturated an entire column of camera detector pixels at the satellite's moment and fourth cameras.

Capturing these pictures enable the satellite to study "transits", the duration of time when a planet passes in front of a smartly-known individual.

TESS view of southern sky
NASA shares stunning 'first light' image from new TESS spacecraft

NASA has previously hunted for exoplanets with the Kepler space telescope, and detected thousands of them in a small part of the night sky. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and a new generation of ground-based telescopes will be well-suited for the follow-up work.

NASA's Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director, said: "In a sea of stars brimming with new worlds, TESS is casting a wide net and will haul in a bounty of promising planets for further study,".

By the end of its survey, of around 200,000 target stars, TESS ought to have captured around 5000 transit-like signals for direct imaging. TESS was launched into space in April 2018 and is created to search for exoplanets by the transit method, photometry, it monitors the brightness variations of the star during the passage of the planet on its disk.

TESS scientists have divided the sky into long strips called sectors. Thirteen sectors in the southern celestial hemisphere will be covered first, followed a year later by 13 sectors in the northern hemisphere.

Tess is 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide and is shorter than most adults.

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