Physics Spotlight  
This test image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. More than 200,000 stars are visible. The image, which is centered in the constellation Centaurus, includes dark tendrils from the Coal Sack Nebula and the bright emission nebula Ced 122 (upper right).The bright star at bottom center is Beta Centauri.

Image: NASA/MIT/TESS This test image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. More than 200,000 stars are visible. The image, which is centered in the constellation Centaurus, includes dark tendrils from the Coal Sack Nebula and the bright emission nebula Ced 122 (upper right).The bright star at bottom center is Beta Centauri.
Image: NASA/MIT/TESS

TESS takes initial test image

Exoplanet-seeking satellite developed by MIT swings by moon toward final orbit.

School of Science
May 18, 2018

The following is adapted from a press release issued today by MIT and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA’s next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is one step closer to searching for new worlds after successfully completing a lunar flyby on May 17. The spacecraft passed about 5,000 miles from the moon, which provided a gravity assist that helped TESS sail toward its final working orbit. 

As part of camera commissioning, the science team snapped a two-second test exposure using one of the four TESS cameras. The image, centered on the southern constellation Centaurus, reveals more than 200,000 stars. The edge of the Coalsack Nebula is in the right upper corner and the bright star Beta Centauri is visible at the lower left edge. 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. A science-quality image, also referred to as a “first light” image, is expected to be released next month in June.