NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has moved one step closer to launch after successfully passing its Systems Integration Review (SIR), an independent review from independent technical and scientific experts who have deemed the mission ready to begin installation of its scientific instrument onto the spacecraft.
Now that TESS has completed this critical review, the mission's cameras and science data processing computer are scheduled to begin installation onto the spacecraft at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, over the next several weeks. Once successfully integrated, the spacecraft will spend the rest of the year undergoing rigorous testing to ensure the mission can withstand the harsh environment of space. The spacecraft is scheduled to ship in February to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Like the Kepler telescope, by design there is a range of focus and image quality across the TESS camera's field of view. Recent measurements revealed the TESS cameras to have slightly reduced focus and image quality near the outer edge of the image when placed in the cold temperatures of space, and better camera focus and image quality towards the center of the image. The difference between the designed and measured focus and image quality will not affect the mission's science goals.