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NASA space telescope TESS releases the first image in its planet hunt



The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) took
this snapshot of the Large Magellanic Cloud (right) and the
bright star R Doradus (left) with just a single detector of one
of its cameras. It’s part of TESS’ “first light”


  • NASA has released the first image from its new space
    telescope, called the
    Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
  • TESS could
    discover thousands of new planets
    relatively close to
  • The telescope began its mission on July 25, and it will spend
    two years scanning 85% of the night sky.
  • Scientists hope TESS will find about 50 small, rocky planets
    that could be habitable to alien life. 

NASA has released the first image
from its new space telescope.

TESS, short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is helping
detect and study
new planets in other solar systems.

The telescope
launched in April
on a SpaceX rocket, and on July 25,
TESS slipped into a unique orbit between Earth and the moon.

The telescope is now scanning the night sky, staring down distant
solar systems, and hunting for small, rocky, Earth-like planets.

NASA just released the first science image captured by Tess,
though it was actually taken in early August. 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.

The full frame captured a much bigger swath of the
southern sky. 
The detailed image was produced using
all four of the spacecraft’s wide-field cameras for 30 minutes,
while the portion above shows the view captured by a
single detector of one of its cameras. (That should give you a
sense of how powerful the whole telescope is.)

The image below shows more of TESS’ “first light” image.
Notable features include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
The brightest stars in the image, Beta Gruis and R Doradus,
saturated an entire column of camera detector pixels on the
satellite’s second and fourth cameras.

TESS First Light
The Transiting Exoplanet
Survey Satellite (TESS) captured this strip of stars and galaxies
in the southern sky during one 30-minute period on Tuesday, Aug.


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.” Paul
Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, said in a

NASA plans to have TESS monitor 85% of the sky over the next two
years, focusing on a new sector every 27 days. TESS will
study 13 sectors in the southern sky the first year, followed by
13 sectors in the northern sky the second year.  By the end
of that period, TESS is expected to have observed about 200,000

To hunt for planets, the telescope will look for changes in a
star’s brightness level — an indication that a planet is passing
in front of the star as part of its orbit. 

Scientists anticipate that data from TESS could reveal thousands
of new planets that are within 200 light-years of
Earth. The team working on TESS even hope to find
about 50 small, rocky planets that could be
habitable to alien life

Sara Seager, the deputy science director for TESS,
previously told Business Insider that she expects to find dozens
of Earth-like planets in the next few years, which could double
the current list of
potentially habitable exoplanets

NASA has previously hunted for exoplanets with the Kepler space
telescope, and detected thousands of them in a small part of the
night sky. But Kepler has nearly
run out of fuel
 and is currently in sleep mode.

TESS will scan a much larger region of the sky than Kepler did —
and one that is closer to Earth.  

“We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in
our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of
planets around some of the closest stars,” Hertz said
in an April press release. “TESS
will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds.”

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