NASA’s TESS(Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), a powerful satellite to find distant worlds. It was launched in April but took some time to actually work for the science objectives.
On Monday, the planet hunter showed a sample power with an image of light in the space packed with stars. “First light” is the astronomical term used to describe the first time a telescope acquires images.
However, it is not the first image from TESS. TESS has given light images before but with only one camera in its testing phase. This time all four of the satellite’s wide-field cameras were used, providing a panoramic view of the southern sky connected from 16 distinct images. These images were taken from the southern hemisphere.
The strip of stars and galaxies include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, and a couple of luminous stars that saturated the camera’s detectors: Beta Gruis and R Doradus.
It detects the variations in the brightness of the distant stars to see if the planets are moving around them. This is a way to detect things which are out of our solar system.
NASA’s Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director, said: “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.”
TESS might spend a year in the southern hemisphere and then work its way to the northern hemisphere, collecting data about new planets.