NASA’s new exoplanet telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS for short, recently released a new panoramic photo of the arc of our Milky Way surrounded by an endless array of stars.
TESS—a successor to the Kepler Space Telescope, which ran out of fuel in 2018 after almost a decade in space—spends its time staring at other stars looking for other planets. We’re not the only solar system in the universe, after all! In fact, Kepler has so far identified more than 5,000 planets orbiting other stars. These planets sometimes look similar to Earth, but many look a lot like Venus or Neptune.
The discovery of exoplanets not only has shifted our way of thinking about planet formation, but also has given us an opportunity to consider other places where life might be lurking in the universe. Looking up always fills us with wonder, but so does looking down—the Earth from above inspires just as much awe.
Wise up with WIRED’s collection of space photos here.