back to article NASA’s new exoplanet-spotter survives sling past the Moon

NASA’s exoplanet-spotting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has successfully manoeuvred around Earth’s moon. TESS is headed for an orbit that’s elliptical and inclined to Earth. The ellipse allows TESS to squirt data back to Earth from its 108,000km perigee, an altitude that keeps it well clear of the cluttered ~30, …

Anonymous Coward

The dark side? Again?

> China ... plans to land on Luna’s dark side later this year

Have we really not figured this out yet?

(Maybe someone will reply, telling me that he (or she) "could care less." Please do. Care less that is.)

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Re: The dark side? Again?

Reckon they'll be playing Pink Floyd in the control centre?

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Re: The dark side? Again?

Should we be paranoid? If so, why?

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Re: The dark side? Again?

If you are on earth, looking at a full moon - a fairly canonical mental image - then "dark side" is accurate.

But El Reg should know better.

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Re: The dark side? Again?

There is no dark side of the moon, its all dark!

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Devil

Re: The dark side? Again?

Of course the moon gas a dark side.

You know, when you can't see it? When it is out of sight?

You don't know what it says about you then. You don't want to know what it says about you then...

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Re: The dark side? Again?

There is no dark side of the moon, its all dark!

That reminds me...

Haru: "The blackness of my belt is like the inside of a coffin on a moonless night."

Beverley Hills Ninja (1997)

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> Have we really not figured this out yet?

No, actually we haven't. This will be a first.

So no, it's definitely not "again"

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Boffin

AC was complaining about the far side of the moon being referred to as the 'dark side', when it's not really dark per se.

("Far Side Of The Moon" probably wouldn't have made as good an album title though)

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Devil

Would be fine as long as Gary Larson did the liner art

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"It's full of stars!"

because.

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Mushroom

Streaky

I noticed a number of streaks in the photo. This should also be an excellent asteroid hunter. Icon for avoiding it, hopefully.

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Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

The different perspective it shoots suns out should also pick up candidates probes in the ecliptic plane do not.

I look forward to a rich data haul when it starts operating.

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Re: Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

The different perspective it shoots suns out should also pick up candidates probes in the ecliptic plane do not.

???

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Re: Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

Yeah! I read that paragraph several times and now I've got a headache.

Translation please John Smith.

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Re: Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

The different perspective it shoots suns out should also pick up candidates that probes in the ecliptic plane do not.

Something something, TESS is in a highly inclined orbit (~40degrees from the ecliptic plane).

NASA Explanation which includes an excellent diagram comparing TESS's field of view with that of the James Webb Telescope.

This means that sections of the sky are not "eclipsed" by the Sun, Earth or Moon for long periods. Obviously they'll always appear in it's sphere of view, but compared to Earth or LEO-based telescopes, you don't have half the sky blocked out for 6 months of the year (or rather, you've got a different section of sky blocked out, which gives you better time-sequencing on areas we haven't had year-round visibility of before).

More significantly because it's shooting above and below the ecliptic plane it gives you a "top-down" and "bottom-up" view on the solar system, so you can see "over and under" planets and moons and get a better view of asteroids and other objects which might only appear to have marginal/slow movement when viewed from the ecliptic, but from "above" and "below" you can see them streaking across the system, which is further enhanced by regular re-imaging of the same sector every few days or weeks.

The upshot is that compared to JWST (which has tunnel vision and can focus on a small area pretty much continuously but to the exclusion of all else), TESS can sample most of the sky every 27 days, the vast majority every 50-180days, with just a small region that only gets coverage once every 351 days.

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Unhappy

The different perspective it shoots suns out should ....

have read.

"The different perspective it shoots suns (potential extra solar plants transits) at should also pick up candidates (for extra solar planets) that probes in the ecliptic plane do not."

Apologies for the quite intense level of confusion that paragraph may have caused.

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Pint

Re: Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

@Chris G

Translation please John Smith.
He was very drunk at the time.

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Re: Impressive use of orbital design to extend probe life without increasing weight.

He was very drunk at the time.

But he was definitely in the right.

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"... around Earth’s moon."

Try saying "... around our moon." instead. It sounds much more personal and heartwarming.

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Re: "... around Earth’s moon."

It's a news report, therefore objective: It's not supposed to sound personal.

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Boffin

Re: "... around Earth’s moon."

Try saying "... around our moon."

Which one?

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How far?

To get into that orbit, TESS needs a gravity-assist from the Moon, which is why it passed within 8.000km of the lunar surface last week.

Is that 8km accurate to the nearest metre, or has someone got their thousands separator wrong?

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Re: How far?

8.000km - Whilst it's probably a typo rather than a ?German? number format I do like the idea that over at NASA they planned the trajectory by using KSP and went for an 8km periapsis on the gravity assist.

8km - that's plenty of clearance... (most of the time)

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Re: How far?

I've seen it reported as 5,000 miles in 'Murican coverage, so 8,000km makes sense.

8km - that's plenty of clearance... (most of the time)

Back in the days of yore (before the Mun had topography) I manually parked a spacecraft in a 1km orbit. Recently, for old times' sake, I tried again and started with a "safe" 5,000-meter orbit. That's when I found new versions of Kerbal Space Program had given the Mun mountains of up to 6,000 meters height, and that vigorous lithobraking maneuvers still produced lots of rocket confetti.

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Re: How far?

I like 'The Mun' it has a nice sound to it.

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Trollface

Re: How far?

They didn't get the thousands separator wrong. They used the only correct option!

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Everything under the Sun is in tune.

But the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon...

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Uranus...

...is dark on every side.

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Happy

Re: Uranus...

Cheeky...

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