TESS mosaic hints at data-rich southern sky survey

This mosaic of the southern sky was assembled from 208 images collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite during its first year of operation. The Milky Way galaxy stretches across the left side of the image, with the Large Magellanic Cloud visible near the center and the more distant Small Magellanic Cloud to its lower right. Orion is positioned at the top of the image. The bright blob just to the right of the Orion Nebula is a reflection inside the camera system. The dark lines and wedges represent gaps between TESS’s detectors. Click on the image for an expanded view. Image: NASA/MIT/TESS and Ethan Kruse (USRA)

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – TESS – has completed its initial survey of the southern sky, collecting 20 terabytes of data that include 29 confirmed exoplanets, more than 1,000 candidate worlds, a comet and numerous supernovae.

To mark the completion of the southern survey on 18 July, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, have assembled a mosaic of 208 images take from 15,347 30-minute exposures captured during the spacecraft’s first year of operation. The panoramic view shows the Milky Way stretched edge on across the southern sky, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and countless stars.

The Goddard video below shows how the mosaic was assembled and the locations of confirmed and candidate exoplanets found to date:

TESS is now mapping the northern sky, using four cameras with a total of 16 charge-coupled devices to look for the slight dimming of starlight that occurs when an exoplanet passes in front of its host sun as seen from Earth’s solar system. Researchers are still reviewing data captured during the first year of operation and working to confirm the status of more than 1,000 exoplanet candidates discovered to date.