Candidate exoplanets as seen by TESS in a southern sky mosaic from 13 observing sectors. (NASA/MIT/TESS)
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has finished its one year full-sky observation of Southern sky and has found hundreds of candidate exoplanets and 29 confirmed planets. It is now maneuvering its array of wide-field telescopes and cameras to focus on the northern sky to do the same kind of exploration.
At this turning point, NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — which played a major role in designing and now operating the mission — have put together mosaic images from the first year’s observations, and they are quite something.
Constructed from 208 TESS images taken during the mission’s first year of science operations, these images are a unique space-based look at the entire Southern sky — including the Milky Way seen edgewise, the Large and Small Magellenic galaxies, and other large stars already known to have exoplanet.
“Analysis of TESS data focuses on individual stars and planets one at a time, but I wanted to step back and highlight everything at once, really emphasizing the spectacular view TESS gives us of the entire sky,” said Ethan Kruse, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow who assembled the mosaic at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The mission is designed to vastly increase the number of known exoplanets, which are now theorized to orbit all — or most — stars in the sky.
TESS searches for the nearest and brightest main sequence stars hosting transiting exoplanets, which are the most favorable targets for detailed investigations.
While previous sky surveys with ground-based telescopes have mainly detected giant exoplanets, TESS will find many small planets around the nearest stars in the sky. The mission will also provide prime targets for further characterization by the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future.
The TESS observatory uses an array of wide-field cameras to perform a survey of 85% of the sky.… Read more