NASA is about to step up its planet-hunting game with the launch of TESS

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NASA is about to step up its planet-hunting game with the launch of TESS‘Los Angeles TimesNASA may fly crew into deep space sooner, but there’s a price‘Ars TechnicaGo On A 4K Joyride Around The Moon, Courtesy of NASA‘Futurism

NASA is about to step up its planet-hunting game with the launch of TESS

On a cold, clear night in January, MIT astrophysicist George Ricker and his students stepped onto a rooftop on campus and aimed a giant camera at the highest point in the sky.

That camera, an engineering model of the four being launched with NASA’s TESS mission, revealed a night thick with stars.

“In two seconds you could see things that were a hundred thousand to a million times fainter than what you could see with your naked eye,” said Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator.

The test offered a small taste of what TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, will discover after it launches as early as Monday afternoon. The spacecraft will scan almost all of the sky for neighboring stars, searching for the dips in their brightness that signal the presence of a planet.

The goal: To find planets that are smaller than Neptune, with a radius less than about four times that of Earth. Scientists will then use other telescopes to measure the masses of 50 of them.

  • Publisher: latimes.com
  • Author: Amina Khan
  • Twitter: latimes
  • Citation: Web link

Not to change the topic here:

NASA may fly crew into deep space sooner, but there’s a price

NASA will likely launch its first astronauts into deep space since the Apollo program on a less powerful version of its Space Launch System rocket than originally planned. Although it has not been officially announced, in recent weeks mission planners at the space agency have begun designing “Exploration Mission 2” to be launched on the Block 1 version of the SLS rocket, which has the capability to lift 70 tons to low Earth orbit.

Acting agency administrator Robert Lightfoot confirmed during a Congressional hearing on Thursday that NASA is seriously considering launching humans to the Moon on the Block 1 SLS. “We’ll change the mission profile if we fly humans and we use the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), because we can’t do what we could do if we have the Exploration Upper Stage,” Lightfoot said.

The key difference between the original configuration of the SLS rocket’which NASA has spent more than $10 billion developing since 2011’and its successor is the upper stage that sits atop the booster. Under current plans, the weaker upper stage, known as the’ICPS, was to fly only once’on the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020. Then, NASA was to switch to a new, much more powerful second stage that would increase the SLS rocket’s overall performance by about 50 percent.

Now, NASA will probably fly the SLS rocket in its Block 1 configuration at least two or even three times before it debuts the more powerful variant of the booster. By doing so, it may get humans into deep space faster. The current launch date of 2023 for the deep space Exploration Mission 2 could move forward, a NASA spokeswoman confirmed. “The earliest possible launch date is being assessed, with a formal decision expected in the coming months,” she added.Even with a Block 1 SLS, NASA should be able to fly this mission profile for Exploration Mission 2 but without the nine-ton payload.

However, this decision also suggests the agency remains far from developing the powerful Exploration Upper Stage, which NASA says it needs to carry out an ambitious program of lunar exploration. This may well delay meaningful exploration in and near the Moon’into the mid- and late-2020s, at the earliest.

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  • Publisher: Ars Technica
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  • Twitter: @arstechnica
  • Citation: Web link

Go On A 4K Joyride Around The Moon, Courtesy of NASA

Well today, NASA’s got a little something to wet our whistle. Its’Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission has been closely examining the Moon’s surface since June 2009, and has been beaming fascinating footage of our only natural satellite back to Earth since then.

And now, using the Orbiter’s treasure trove of detailed footage, NASA has recreated a five-minute’ “Tour of the Moon” animation from 2011 in glorious 4K, including perspectives that can only be seen from space.

  • Publisher: Futurism
  • Date: 2018-04-12T15:16:29+00:00
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  • Twitter: @futurism
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Apr 13th, 2018 03:07 UTC On a cold, clear night in January, MIT astrophysicist George Ricker and his students stepped onto a rooftop on campus and aimed a giant camera at the highest point in the sky. That camera, an engineering model of the four being launched with NASA ‘s TESS

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