NASA's fresh planet searching satellite shares 'dawn' picture of space

TESS took this snapshot of the Large Magellanic Cloud and the bright star R Doradus with just a single detector of one of its cameras on August 7. Image credit NASA  MIT  TESS

TESS took this snapshot of the Large Magellanic Cloud and the bright star R Doradus with just a single detector of one of its cameras on August 7. Image credit NASA MIT TESS

TESS is equipped with four cameras that will allow it to view 85 percent of the entire sky, as it searches exoplanets orbiting stars less than 300 light-years away.

The new images utilise all four of the satellite's wide-field cameras, providing a panoramic view of the southern sky stitched together from 16 distinct images. The image, captured during its initial science orbit, features thousands of stars in the Southern Sky. The range of vision of the device in TESS is 400 times larger than Kepler.

However, the truly important parts of the image for the TESS team are all the stars that potentially serve as home to previously unknown planets.

NASA further said that TESS acquired the image by utilizing all the four cameras within the time frame of 30 minutes period on August 7.

There are parts of a dozen constellations in the TESS image, according to NASA, along with a globular cluster that includes hundreds of thousands of stars. TESS is picking up the exoplanet-hunting mantle from Kepler and is targeting stars much brighter than Kepler investigated.

TESS captured this strip of stars and galaxies in the southern sky during one 30-min period on August 7. Notable features in this swath of the southern sky include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and a globular cluster called NGC 104 also known

TESS's cameras, designed and built by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the MIT Kavli Institute, monitor large swaths of the sky to look for transits. TESS will spend a year or so on the southern hemisphere and then work its way to the northern hemisphere, collecting an enormous amount of data and relaying it back to scientists on Earth. Transits happen when a planet passes in front of its star, thus causing a dip in brightness.

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.

The stars which become its targets are in fact 30 to 300 light years away and nearly 30 to 100 times brighter when compared to Kepler's targets which too are 300 to 3,000 light years away. 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 brightness of TESS's targets make them ideal candidates for follow-up study with spectroscopy, the study of how matter and light interact.

After the James Webb Space Telescope will finally launch, the scientists will be able to follow TESS's discoveries at their own pace and, perhaps, in the future, find a planet not very different from our own. "And of course, lots of exciting exoplanet and star proposals as well".

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