NASA’s TESS telescope shares first image from its planet hunt mission

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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.

TESS could discover thousands of new planets relatively close to Earth. Over the next three years, TESS will continue to scan the night sky, sector by sector.

'TESS will cast a wider net than ever before for enigmatic worlds whose properties can be probed by NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and other missions'. The spacecraft launched in April. Full data processing and analysis takes place within the Science Processing and Operations Center pipeline at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, which provides calibrated images and refined light curves that scientists can analyze to find promising exoplanet transit candidates. The mosaic shows parts of a dozen constellations in the southern hemisphere, from Capricornus to Pictor.

The full frame captured a much bigger swath of the southern sky.

TESS managed to grab the image by using all of its four cameras for a 30-minute period on Tuesday, August 7th.

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The image below shows more of TESS' "first light" image.

Bright spots in the image include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two satellite dwarf galaxies within our Milky Way galaxy's sphere of influence.

NASA's new 'planet hunter, ' set to be Kepler's successor, is equipped with four cameras that will allow it to view 85 per cent of the entire sky, as it searches exoplanets orbiting stars less than 300 light-years away. 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".

TESS will spend two years monitoring of the 26 sectors of the sky for 27 days each. Then TESS will turn to the 13 sectors of the northern sky to carry out a second year-long survey. By the end of that period, TESS is expected to have observed about 200,000 stars. This is when the planet passes in front of its star (from the point of view of the observer), causing periodic and regular drop in brightness. This accounts for dips into the star's brightness, allowing scientists to discern new planets. In this part of the universe exoplanets are potentially habitable worlds. Now stocks of fuel on Kepler over, so in the near future, the Observatory will cease to exist.

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

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