The new NASA space telescope dedicated to exoplanet research, TESS, is currently on its way to its final orbit.
A few days ago, after the gravity assist with the Moon last May 17, TESS captured a first test image in the constellation Centaurus. The image contains about 200,000 stars and the boundaries of the Coalsack Nebula are recognizable in the upper right corner, while the star Beta Centauri can be seen below.
During his two years of mission, TESS will be able to examine an area in the sky about 400 times larger than that captured with this first test image and will provide valuable data for astronomers looking for exoplanets.
In a few days, NASA technicians will turn on the TESS engines to bring the instrument into its definitive orbit, 40 ° inclined to the lunar orbit and with a revolution time equal to half that of the Moon. This particular orbit has been specially designed to minimize interference and interference from our satellite.
In June, the first real image captured by TESS, the “first light”, is expected to be released.
The data obtained by TESS will allow to identify new exoplanet candidates, which will then be the subject of an in-depth analysis by the James Webb space telescope, whose launch is scheduled for 2020.