NASA’s Planet-Hunter TESS Snaps Its First Image

Posted: May 20 2018, 12:01am CDT | by , Updated: May 20 2018, 12:13am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA’s Planet Hunter TESS Snaps its First Image
TESS captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. More than 200,000 stars are visible in this image Credits: NASA/MIT/TESS

TESS mission is the next step in NASA's search for planets beyond our solar system

NASA’s next planet-hunting mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, has sent back its first test image. The image was taken by one of four TESS cameras after completing a flyby to moon on May 17. The image shows southern constellation Centaurus and more than 200,000 stars inside it. TESS passed about 5,000 miles from the Moon and is now heading towards its final working orbit.

Launched in April 18, TESS mission is designed to explore planets outside our solar system. The satellite will spend two years scanning nearly the entire sky and observe the brightness of more than 20 million stars. The satellite will find hidden planets by looking for temporary drops in the brightness of a star when a planet crosses in front of it. When a planet passes in front of a star as viewed from Earth, it is called a “transit”.

There are potentially thousands of planets lurking just outside our solar system. Some of these planets could have conditions necessary to support life. TESS is expected to find thousands of exoplanets during its mission. Once they are detected by TESS, scientists can get an up-close view of their atmospheres, characterize conditions and even look for signs of habitability by using satellite’s cameras with large-aperture wide-angle lenses designed to survey the entire sky.

“TESS will provide a catalogue that astronomers will be able to flip through for decades or centuries to come to study the properties of exoplanets.” Professor Zach Berta-Thompson from CU Boulder who is involved in the TESS mission said in an earlier statement.

Rather than being around the Sun, TESS’s orbit has a close relationship with the Moon. It provides a gravitational nudge that will help send the spacecraft towards its desired location.

“TESS will undergo one final thruster burn on May 30 to enter its science orbit around Earth,” NASA said. “This highly elliptical orbit will maximize the amount of sky the spacecraft can image, allowing it to continuously monitor large swaths of the sky.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir. With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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