A new space telescope sent its first picture

A new space telescope sent its first picture

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

TESS could discover thousands of new planets relatively close to Earth.

NASA's Deep Space Network receives that data and forwards it to the TESS Payload Operations Center at MIT for initial evaluation and analysis, before full data processing and analysis at NASA's Ames Research Center in California generates calibrated images and refined light curves that can then be used to identify promising exoplanet transit candidates. The astrophysics division director at NASA, Paul Hertz, said that "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". The northern sky will get its check-up during the second year.

Now, in a demonstration of its power, NASA is showing off the first science image the satellite has captured, and boy is it a beauty.

In addition to broad exposures, TESS's cameras will also capture high-definition images of "postage stamps" - sections of the sky containing 200,000 especially bright stellar targets. 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. This new image, however, uses all four of the satellites wide-field cameras and it consists of a panoramic view of the southern sky made by stitching together 16 different images. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and a new generation of ground-based telescopes will be well-suited for the follow-up work.

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Among other details, the images also have parts of dozen of constellations like Capricornus and Picto and both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

TESS snapped the picture over a 30-minute period on Tuesday, August 7. The results represent "first light" for the new space telescope, and indicate that it is ready to begin looking for exoplanets by monitoring nearly the entire night sky to look for regular dips in the brightness of relatively nearby stars.

The spacecraft will search for the exoplanets through a phenomenon called transit, in which a planet passes in front of its star, generating a periodic and regular fall in the brightness of the star.

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

To find new exoplanets, TESS takes images of space over a period of 27 days, with a focus on the southern sky during its first year. "TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds".

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