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NASA's TESS spacecraft captured this swath of the southern sky in its “first light” science image on Aug. 7, 2018. Photo: NASA/MIT/TESS

NASA's new planet-hunting spacecraft, known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is now beaming back data to help scientists track new planets that exist beyond our solar system. While in its initial science orbit, TESS took a detailed snapshot of the southern sky, which NASA called a "first light" image.

Why it matters: “In a sea of stars brimming with new worlds, TESS is casting a wide net and will haul in a bounty of promising planets for further study,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a press release. “This first light science image shows the capabilities of TESS’ cameras, and shows that the mission will realize its incredible potential in our search for another Earth.”

The details: NASA says the image was captured using TESS' four cameras during a 30-minute period on Aug.7 and that it includes stars and other systems already thought to contain exoplanets.

“This swath of the sky’s southern hemisphere includes more than a dozen stars we know have transiting planets based on previous studies from ground observatories.”
— George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at the MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

A more complete "first light" image from all 4 cameras is below:

The TESS satellite captured this strip of stars and galaxies in the southern sky during one 30-minute period on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Notable features in this swath of the southern sky include the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and a globular cluster called NGC 104, also known as 47 Tucanae. Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS.

Go deeper

Major companies vow to train, hire Afghan refugees arriving in U.S.

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Global Citizen

More than 30 major companies have promised to hire and train Afghan refugees coming to the U.S., per a press release from the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the group spearheading the effort.

The big picture: The 33 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Pfizer and UPS, are joining the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, a coalition founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of yogurt and food company Chobani.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Gracias, México, for color TVs

The patent diagram (left) from Guillermo González Camarena's chromoscopic adapter, and he and the engineer (right inspecting TV equipment around 1955 in Mexico City. Photos: U.S. Patent Office and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México

Credit Mexican engineering and entrepreneurship for developments that led to the in color television, oral contraception and finding a way to help mend the ozone layer.

Why it matters: The contributions helped modernize how we could see the world; improve women's health and expand women's roles beyond the home; and identify dangerous emissions and how to reduce them.

Ipsos poll: Support growing for abortion rights in Latin America

Members of feminist groups in Saltillo, Mexico, after the decriminalization of abortion was approved in Coahuila, Mexico. Photo: Antonio Ojeda/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Support for abortion rights in some Latin American countries has jumped considerably since 2014, with Argentina seeing the biggest shift, an Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: The view that abortion should be permitted at least under certain circumstances is held by a majority of adults surveyed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.