NASA published the first official photo taken with the new space telescope TESS, which was launched on April 18, 2018 by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket for high elliptical orbit. TESS is an abbreviation of Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. It should help in searching for exoplanets, or planets similar to Earth, that could potentially be inhabited.
The telescope hit the target Earth orbit on July 25, 2018, and NASA recently published the first scientific photo taken by TESS to be used for research. However, they were made at the beginning of August.
In the picture only a part of the whole frame, which was made using all four telescope cameras. The visible fragment is part of the image captured with a detector belonging to one of the cameras. It shows how powerful the entire telescope is.
"The first scientific picture, the so-called first light, makes us aware of the capabilities of TESS cameras and shows that the mission can fulfill the potential in finding a new Earth," said Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics department.
NASA plans to search the telescope 85 percent. skies in two years. Every 27 days the telescope will focus on the new area. TESS will study 13 areas of the southern sky during the first year and then 13 areas of the northern sky during the second year of the mission. TESS should observe about 200,000 stars.
When searching for planets, the telescope will look for changes in the brightness of the star - a sign that the planet is flying in front of the star as part of its orbit.
According to the researchers, the data collected by TESS may result in the discovery of thousands of new planets that would be within 200 light years of Earth. The team responsible for the TESS mission hopes to even find about 50 small, rocky planets on which life could exist.
Previously, the Kepler Space Telescope was used for such searches - it almost ended with fuel and the telescope is now in a dormant state.
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