NASAs planet-hunting probe catches comet in action

NASA NAS Planet hunting probe National Library of Australia Nasa's planet-hunting probe nasa planet hunt catches comet Nasa catches comet

According to a report by the space agency, the images that were stitched together to create the video were shot over the course of 17 hours.

Images taken on July 25 by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. The comet is named C/2018 N1, it is at nearly 48 million kilometers away from our planet and the images captured by TESS show the comet moving over the constellation Piscis Austrinus.

NASA's new TESS spacecraft - which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, in case you were wondering - is all ready to get its scientific mission underway, but before its incredible power could be unleashed by researchers it had to be tested by its handlers at NASA. As of Aug C/2018 N1 is about 48 million km from Earth in the direction of the constellation southern Fish.

Apart from the comet, the images also reveal a number of other interesting astronomical activity.

But instead of using that ability to observe changes in star brightness, in the video TESS focused on a handful of other phenomena that astronomers call transients due to their temporary appearance in the sky. As Space.com explains, these brightening and dimming behavior is caused by stellar mechanics, not by planets orbiting the star.

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The light drifting from Mars located outside the frame can be seen as a faint broad arc of light which is moving across the middle section of the frame from left to right.

Astronomers were also able to glimpse a group of asteroids zipping in the distance, only visible in the sped-up boomerang clip at the end of the video.

The space agency has compiled the photos into a short clip, unveiled today on its website. This ability is critical in the search for alien planets, which is the primary goal of NASA's advanced satellite.

TESS will spend two years tracking the nearest, brightest stars in hopes of catching transits or periodic dips in the star's light.

The new space telescope TESS has started its job a few days ago and while preparing to scan for planets outside our solar system, it spotted a comet passing by. "Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover".

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