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What’s Happening This Week at the Fleet?

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September 24, 2018
by Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center

This week, the NASA spacecraft TESS released its first science images.  Launched in April 2018, TESS stands for “Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.” The goal of its planned two-year mission is to discover small, Earth-like planets using the “transit” method of planet detection, looking for small dips in the light of a star due to a planet passing in between it and our perspective from Earth.

So, what did this first set of images show us? The view is of a part of the sky most easily visible from the southern hemisphere of the Earth, including parts of twelve different constellations. The two large fuzzy blogs are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two small companion galaxies to our own Milky Way.  Some of the stars in this image are already known to have planets in orbit around them.

By the time TESS has finished its mission, it will have studied the light from approximately 200,000 stars and is expected to double the number of known exoplanets with what it is capable of finding. These new images are the first steps along TESS’ scientific journey!


Wishing you clear skies!


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