NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) telescope, launched in 2018, observes the sky in search of exoplanets and has made admirable discoveries. It has 74 exopanets confirmed to exist and 1,200 candidates awaiting validation. In this way, a potentially habitable planet and a planet that corresponds to Earth have been discovered. His two-year observations allow us today to obtain a magnificent mosaic of the skies of the northern hemisphere.
Two years of meticulous work
In its first year of operation, TESS observed the southern hemisphere and has been focusing on the north since late 2019. To do this, the telescope has divided the sky into 13 sectors. He then took a picture every 30 minutes for 27 days with his 4 cameras, which were equipped with a total of 16 CDD sensors.
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Each of the CDD sensors captured nearly 30,800 complete scientific images, or nearly 40 terabytes of data. To give you an overview, this corresponds to streaming around 12,000 HD films.
208 images were put together to create a new panorama of the sky of the northern hemisphere, covering a part slightly smaller than that of the southern hemisphere. The engineers had to tilt the cameras slightly north for several sectors to reduce the influence of light scattered by the earth and moon. After two years of observation, the data collected by the TESS telescope made it possible to obtain this incredible mosaic, presented by NASA on October 5, 2020.
TESS begins its extended mission
It’s not done yet! TESS completed its main mission in July 2020 and is now entering its expanded mission. For this purpose, it will go over the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere a second time in order to map the southern sky. In particular, he will re-observe the planets and exoplanets discovered in his first year to find new ones and to fill any gaps in the data.
Position of more than 600 exoplanet candidates identified by TESS.
Thanks to improvements in satellite computing, TESS can now return full sector images every ten minutes and measure the brightness of thousands of stars every 20 seconds. Obviously, in parallel, the satellite will continue its old strategy, which is to measure the luminosity of tens of thousands of stars every two minutes.
“These changes promise to make the TESS expanded mission even more successful,” said Padi Boyd, mission project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Performing high-precision measurements of star brightness at these frequencies makes TESS an exceptional new resource for studying flaming and pulsing stars and other transient phenomena, as well as for studying the science of transient exoplanets. “Space is not ready to reveal any of its secrets to us!