NASA’s newest planet hunter telescope shares first science image

18 Septembre, 2018, 18:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote

NASA's newest planet hunter telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has now shared the first science image that it captured as part of its initial round of data collection.

TESS' four wide-field cameras, each with four detectors, captured this annotated "first light" image of the sky during a 30-minute period on August 7.

Its stunning "first light" image reveals a look at several celestial features, including the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the incredibly bright stars Beta Gruis and R Doradus.

However, it's not the first time TESS has beamed an image back to Earth.

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. "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".

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.

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TESS was launched from Florida in April by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and the mission team has been spending the past few months getting the spacecraft ready for what's expected to be a two-year mission. TESS is picking up the exoplanet-hunting mantle from Kepler and is targeting stars much brighter than Kepler investigated. That will allow it to cover 85% of the sky.

It's the same technique used by NASA's Kepler telescope, which focused on a small patch of sky that straddled the northern constellations Lyra and Cygnus.

Then, the following year, it will scour the northern sectors.

'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'.

NASA says it's somewhere between the size of a refrigerator and a stacked washer and dryer.

'We expect TESS will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions, which hold potential clues to the presence of life, could be precisely measured by future observers'.

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