Video: Comet Whizzes Past Newly Launched NASA Planet-Hunting Telescope

NASA's planet-hunting TESS telescope, launched in April, has caught a glimpse of a distant comet whizzing through space.

Comet C/2018 N1 can be seen moving from right to left across the frame in a video released by NASA. The comet is flying some 29 million miles from Earth.

The video consisted of images captured by TESS—NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite—before it started to perform scientific investigations, the agency reported. On July 25, the spacecraft began using its sophisticated technology to probe the sky for undiscovered planets.

@NASA’s @NASA_TESS satellite has started collecting science data. Over the next two years, it will look at almost the entire sky, searching for evidence of new planets:

— NASA_TESS (@NASA_TESS) July 27, 2018

The telescope inadvertently captured the pictures of the comet over 17 hours during testing on July 25. The video showed the spacecraft could collect stable images of large slices of sky over time, NASA reported.

The comet itself is a pretty new discovery. NASA's NEOWISE satellite only spotted C/2018 N1 on June 29, the agency reported. It's moving through the southern constellation Piscis Austrinus.

8_8_TESS Comet
This sequence is compiled from a series of images taken on July 25 by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The angular extent of the widest field of view is 6 degrees. Visible in the images are the comet C/2018 N1, asteroids, variable stars, asteroids and reflected light from Mars. Massachusetts Institute of Technology/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Beyond the ball of ice and dust, TESS's images revealed all sorts of celestial treats, including stars, asteroids and even an arc of stray light from Mars, which reached opposition days after the images were captured. Mars opposition occurs when the red planet and the sun line up on directly opposite sides of Earth. Don't worry if you missed the event itself, as the blushing orb is still glowing brightly in the night sky. Mars reached its closest approach to Earth since 2003 on July 31.

In other comet news, green-glowing C/2017 S3 made its closest approach to Earth Tuesday. It's now headed toward the sun and may eventually be visible with large telescopes once it moves away from the ferocious orb. But another comet—21/Giacobini-Zinner—is visible with only small telescopes from the northern hemisphere during the night. offers handy charts to track the comet's journey through space.

A comet zips through the sky. Getty Images/NASA

Elsewhere in space news, scientists are confused about how fast the universe is expanding. New data published in The Astrophysical Journal suggested the long-held cosmological model of the universe may need revising.

A new telescope has also discovered strange and mysterious radio signals traveling from the depths of space. No one knows exactly where these "fast radio bursts" come from, but scientists around the world have been racing to find out.