STScI Newsletter
2023 / Volume / Issue

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Jenny Medina, Hannah Lewis, Thomas Dutkiewicz, Scott W. Fleming - 2023 Feb 28

TICA diagram
Diagram outlining the ingesting process for TICA and SPOC FFIs into MAST.

The TESS Image CAlibrator (TICA) is a pipeline created and maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that produces High-Level Science Products, which provide quick-look, calibrated “preview” versions of TESS full-frame images (FFIs). The FFIs from the mission pipeline are created and delivered ~6 weeks after the start of a Sector. In contrast, the TICA FFIs are delivered every half-orbit (i.e., weekly), and thus are available weeks earlier. To increase access to the TICA FFIs and allow the community to benefit from earlier access to these images, MAST has added the TICA FFIs to our cutout service, TESSCut.  You can create cutouts using our browser interface , or through astroquery.mast (see demonstration below). Both options now have the ability to specify the product (FFI) type to use for the cutouts creation, either “SPOC” (for the formal mission FFIs) or “TICA”.

Because the TICA FFIs are generated using a separate pipeline from the mission-produced FFIs, there are some notable differences between the two products, but they allow for earlier access to pixel data from the mission. This is especially important for transient science and to get started on follow-up observations earlier. We encourage you to read the documentation and primary references available on the MAST TICA homepage for information on these pipeline differences, the file naming convention, and more. 

It is important to remember that, in general, TICA will have the latest Sector in advance of the mission FFIs. For example, TICA may have Sector 61 FFIs available for cutouts before SPOC has Sector 61 FFIs. It is worth noting that new TICA products are delivered ~weekly. As such, the available image set to make a cutout from will grow over the course of a month as each of the four ~weekly deliveries are ingested into MAST. It should also be noted that MAST only contains TICA versions of FFIs back to Sector 27, meaning there are no TICA versions of the FFIs for Sectors observed in the prime era of the mission (Sectors 1-26).

To install or update astroquery to include TICA cutout support, run this command:

  •  pip install git+

As always, if you make use of TESSCut for your research, please cite Brasseur et al. 2019 in your papers so the impact can be tracked and we can continue to grow and improve this service.  And reach out to the Archive Help Desk with any further questions or feedback!

TICA code snippet
An example call to the TESSCut API through astroquery.mast’s Tesscut class for TICA cutouts of a given target.