NASA’s newest planet-hunting satellite just beamed back its first test image. The image is the star field around the constellation Centaurus; this 2-second exposure captured more than 200,000 stars. The bright flash at the bottom of the image is the star Beta Centauri, which is 391 light years away.
TESS, the satellite launched by NASA last month that will search thousands of stars for Earth-like exoplanets. “TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times as much sky as shown in this image with its four cameras during its initial two-year search for exoplanets,” NASA said in a statement.
TESS’ role in the exoplanet search is just the first step. NASA says it expects the satellite to spot thousands of exoplanets; it’ll be up to the James Webb Space Telescope to do follow-up investigations of the most promising candidates TESS identifies.