NASA's TESS Space Telescope Just Captured Its First 'Official' Images of the Stars
.@NASA_TESS shares its "first light" image. Features in this swath of the southern sky include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and a globular cluster called NGC 104: Read More @NASA: https://t.co/C3wVr5WNgI pic.twitter.com/na4ciL9DeZ- NASA_TESS (@NASA_TESS) September 17, 2018
The new images include twelve constellations, as well as the Large Magellanic Cloud and much more. TESS will spend 27 days looking at each of the 26 sectors, searching for exoplanets via the transit method—an astronomy technique that watches for dips in a star's brightness caused by a planet passing in front of it (called a 'transit').
TESS won't be searching for these planets blind, however—it will be aided by the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and NASA's already robust catalog of exoplanet data. According to George Ricker, TESS' principal investigator: "This swath of the sky's southern hemisphere includes more than a dozen stars we know have transiting planets based on previous studies from ground observatories."
Apart from finding potentially habitable exoplanets for humans, TESS may also be humanity's first tool to discover alien life on other planets. According to a statement made by NASA Astrophysics division director Paul Hertz back in July: "Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the strange, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover."