NASA's TESS satellite accidentally caught a comet 'burp' on video

One of NASA's satellites accidentally a comet doing what seems to be like a cosmic 'burp'

@JakConnorTT
Published Thu, Dec 12 2019 3:13 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 11:45 AM CST

Sometimes when you are observing space you run into things that you just don't expect, NASA recently experienced this when they pointed one of their satellites a comet.

NASA's TESS satellite accidentally caught a comet 'burp' on video | TweakTown.com

NASA pointed their Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or better known as TESS at comet 46P/Wirtanen in an effort to merely test their systems. To their surprise the comet ejected an estimated 2.2 million pounds of materials (ice, dust and gas) in what looks very similar to that of a 'burp'. Scientists said that the 'burp' lasted for about one hour and occurred on September 26th, 2018.

This isn't the very first time astronomers have spotted a comet ejecting materials, but it is the first time that a satellite has observed the entire thing like TESS has done. According to the paper's lead author, astronomer Tony Farnham of the University of Maryland, "We can't predict when comet outbursts will happen. But even if we somehow had the opportunity to schedule these observations, we couldn't have done any better in terms of timing. The outburst happened mere days after the observations started."

Since TESS is designed to observe exoplanets (planets that could potentially have life on them) it takes detailed images every 30 minutes. This meant that astronomers got an extremely detailed images of the material ejection and progression from the comet. "With 20 days' worth of very frequent images, we were able to assess changes in brightness very easily. Such imagery That's what TESS was designed for, to perform its primary job as an exoplanet surveyor."

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NEWS SOURCES:bigthink.com, nasa.gov

Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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