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posted by janrinok on Monday May 21 2018, @04:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the altogether-now,-pull! dept.

NASA's new planet hunter snaps initial test image, swings by Moon toward final orbit

NASA's next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is one step closer to searching for new worlds after successfully completing a lunar flyby on May 17. The spacecraft passed about 5,000 miles from the Moon, which provided a gravity assist that helped TESS sail toward its final working orbit.

As part of camera commissioning, the science team snapped a two-second test exposure using one of the four TESS cameras. The image, centered on the southern constellation Centaurus, reveals more than 200,000 stars. The edge of the Coalsack Nebula is in the right upper corner and the bright star Beta Centauri is visible at the lower left edge. TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times as much sky as shown in this image with its four cameras during its initial two-year search for exoplanets. A science-quality image, also referred to as a "first light" image, is expected to be released in June.

TESS will undergo one final thruster burn on May 30 to enter its science orbit around Earth. This highly elliptical orbit will maximize the amount of sky the spacecraft can image, allowing it to continuously monitor large swaths of the sky. TESS is expected to begin science operations in mid-June after reaching this orbit and completing camera calibrations.

Normal TESS images will have up to 30 minutes of exposure time.

Also at EarthSky and TechCrunch.

Previously: NASA's TESS Mission Set to Launch on Wednesday, April 18

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  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday May 21 2018, @04:22PM (1 child)

    by Freeman (732) on Monday May 21 2018, @04:22PM (#682241) Journal

    The sad part is that most of us can barely see a few stars due to light pollution.

    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Monday May 21 2018, @07:21PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Monday May 21 2018, @07:21PM (#682332) Journal

      It's a problem that won't be going away anytime soon, unless you live on the Moon colony or we get ultra fast transportation to remote locations on Earth.

      I'd worry more about life extension. There's an entire galaxy around you filled with hundreds of billions of stars, and likely trillions of planets, but you may not get to see any of them up close (except Earth and maybe Mars).

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []