NASA’s exoplanet hunter, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) just captured its first photo, showing over 200,000 stars in our galaxy. Using one of the spacecraft’s four cameras, the science team snapped a two-second test exposure as part of camera commissioning.
The test shot was taken after TESS made a successful lunar flyby on May 17, passing about 5,000 miles from the moon. Despite the number of stars in the image, it represents just a tiny section of the cosmos TESS can keep its eyes on. It can run over 400 times as much of the night sky as can be seen above when everything is up and running.
Instead of just finding thousands more previously undiscovered planets, TESS is expected to collect data on them. NASA will then study their atmosphere by taking a closer look using the James Webb Telescope.
Launched on April 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the spacecraft’s job is to search for the planet beyond our solar system. On May 30, TESS will experience one final thruster burn to enter its highly elliptical orbit around our planet. When it becomes fully operational, NASA says you can expect to see its first science-quality image sometime in June.