NASA's TESS shows off a gorgeous panorama of the southern sky

NASA has unveiled a large and awe-inspiring panoramic photo that was taken by the TESS spacecraft. The panoramic image was constructed using 208 images that TESS has taken during the first year of science operations that completed on July 18. NASA says that the image shows both the beauty of the cosmos and the reach of the TESS cameras.

Normally the analysis of TESS data focuses on individual stars, but NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Ethan Kruse says that he wanted to "step back" and highlight everything at once. Within the massive scene, TESS has discovered 29 exoplanets and more than 1,000 candidate planets that astronomers are investigating now.

TESS divides the southern sky into 13 sectors and images each of them for nearly a month using four cameras. Combined, the cameras carry a total of 16 charge-coupled devices. TESS cameras capture a full sector of the sky every 30 minutes as part of its search for exoplanets.

In its first year of operations, each of the CCDs captured 15,347 30-minute science images. The images are part of more than 20 TB of southern sky data TESS has returned. That is comparable to streaming nearly 6,000 HD movies.

TESS has done more than find exoplanets. It has also imaged a comet in the solar system, followed the progress of supernovae, and caught the flare from a star that was ripped apart by a supermassive black hole. Once TESS was finished with its imaging of the southern sky, it turned to image the northern sky. Check out the video NASA offered of the TESS southern sky survey above.