NASA’s new exoplanet hunter TESS snaps 200,000+ stars in its 1st PHOTO

NASA’s new exoplanet hunter TESS snaps 200,000+ stars in its 1st PHOTO
After passing the moon’s orbit, NASA’s planet-hunting satellite has snapped its first picture from one of four cameras on board, relaying the footage of some 200,000 stars back to astronomers on Earth.

The mesmerizing two-second test exposure by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) focused on the southern constellation Centaurus, after the spacecraft traveled around 5,000 miles past the moon. The image, which captures more than 200,000 stars, clearly shows Coalsack Nebula in the top-right corner, while Beta Centauri is visible at the lower left edge.

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TESS, which was launched on its hunt for faraway planets last month, is armed with four cameras capable of covering 400 times as much sky as shown in its maiden snapshot.

It is NASA’s first cosmic surveyor tasked with searching for Earth-like planets outside our own solar system. The mission to find exoplanets is expected to last at least two years and will start in mid-June after TESS finishes its instrument testing.

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