MAY 20, 2018 03:39 PM PDT

NASA's TESS Spacecraft is Well On its Way to Destination Orbit

It’s been about a month since NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Nevertheless, plans concerning the mission seem to be falling into place already.

An artist's impression of the TESS mission in space.

Image Credit: NASA

In an official statement released by NASA, we learn that TESS completed a successful lunar flyby maneuver last Thursday that helped put the spacecraft on course for its intended destination: a highly-elliptical orbit around the Earth.

During the maneuver, TESS flew past the lunar surface within roughly 5,000 miles. In doing so, the Moon’s gravitational pull behaved just like a slingshot and accelerated TESS along its projected trajectory. NASA refers to these types of maneuvers as “gravity assists.”

But that wasn’t all TESS accomplished; citing NASA’s statement, the spacecraft also performed vital camera imaging tests with one of the spacecraft’s four onboard imaging devices to ensure proper function. The two-second camera test yielded the image shown below:

The image taken of the cosmos by TESS during its imaging test.

Image Credit: NASA/MIT/TESS

By May 30th, TESS will be far enough away from Earth to commence its highly-elliptical orbit. Once realized, the spacecraft’s onboard thruster engines will ignite to stabilize its position.

Related: Here's what the TRAPPIST-1 system looks like from Kepler's perspective

After TESS reaches its final destination, the spacecraft will begin searching far and wide for significant dips in starlight from distant stars. Astronomers use this method somewhat often as a means of discovering distant exoplanets.

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope fulfills similar tasks, but it’s running out of fuel and won’t be able to continue space research for too much longer. The hope is that TESS will continue Kepler’s legacy, permitting astronomers to find out more about planetary formation and exoplanetary habitability.

Assuming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope doesn’t face any additional delays, it could become a powerful tool for validating TESS’ findings as soon as 2020. It should be interesting to see what astronomers will find as these two new missions launch and begin scientific observations.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 11, 2018
Lunar Rock Samples Collected by the Apollo Astronauts May Not Tell the Moon's Entire Story
While some researchers study our planet to learn more about its history and formation, other researchers focus their efforts on alternative bodies in the s...
SEP 16, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 16, 2018
NASA Launches ICESat-2 Satellite to Study Earth's Ice Loss with Lasers
A United Launch Alliance-branded Delta II rocket took to the skies from a Vandenberg Air Force Base, California-based launch pad on Saturday to deploy NASA...
OCT 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 09, 2018
Putting the Mars 2020 Rover Together - Behind the Scenes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that NASA’s planning to send another rover to the Martian surface to investigate...
OCT 22, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 22, 2018
Watch NASA's IOP/SS Deluge System Spew 450,000 Gallons of Water in Just 60 Seconds
NASA’s upcoming Space Launch System (SLS) rocket received a ton of hype in recent memory, and for a good reason; it’s set to surpass the legend...
DEC 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2018
Here's Why Harvard Scientists Believe Oumuamua Could Have Been an Alien Spacecraft
  When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize...
DEC 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2018
NASA's InSight Lander Captured the Sound of Martian Wind
It’s been less than two weeks since NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander touch...
Loading Comments...