The quest for Earth's protection from asteroid threats will just get a boost, as the "absolute flood of new observations" comes from a new telescope designed to skip the sky, says Ed Lu, co-founder of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to planetary defenses.
It is expected that the telescope of the Great Synoptic Research (LSST) in Chile will have the "first light" in 2020, meaning that telescopic mirrors will be exposed to the sky for the first time. Then full operation for her ten-year recording of the southern sky begins in 2022, if everything goes smoothly. Lu said that the telescope would spot tens of thousands of new asteroids in the first year alone, and much more.
Lu and others shared the latest achievements in planetary defense just in time for the Asteroid Day, the annual celebration on June 30 to discuss the science of asteroids and possible threats posed by the Earth. Although we know that there are no asteroids that will inevitably cause damage to our planet, that possibility exists, the participants of the Asteroid Day teleconference said on Thursday (June 27th).
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Between LSST and other already operational telescopes, Lu added, scientists predict that they will quickly catalog 70 percent or more asteroids – or space rock – 140 meters in size. This statistic is relevant to Congress, which in 2005 requested NASA to catalog at least 90% of these asteroids by 2020, the agency said. Lu admitted that scientists would not meet that deadline, but said he would be able to make that catalog with enough time and resources.
Lu said that scientists should start thinking about how to set up new public discovery. When LSST first detects these objects, their observations will be so rare that it will be difficult to limit the orbits of the asteroids. At a time before scientists are certain to trace these objects, more can be considered a threat to Earth, because scientists can not read where they are moving in space.
Airborne explosion hazard
However, smaller asteroids pose a threat only at the local level, said Mark Boslough – the first US scientist to visit Chelyabinsk after a six-story facility exploded above the Russian city in 2013. 40 meters) range of magnitude can pose a threat to cities, he said.
Boslough described the event from Tungus, an 1908 incident in which the asteroid broke into the Earth's atmosphere and set off 830 square kilometers of Siberian forest. This and other "air jets" are quite capable of causing a lot of property damage, so smaller asteroids should also be involved in disaster planning, he said.
"I always thought we should be worried more for them than for us [now], primarily because they are only so much more abundant. There are some of these 10 million, "he said.
Boslough – a physicist at the Los Angeles National Laboratory – said that these smaller objects might not be cataloged because there are so many. Instead, he suggests developing a survey that would notice all those close to Earth. Then catastrophe planners could evacuate cities that could be under threat of the facility, just like we do today for hurricanes.
There are other possibilities to search for these objects. This summer, the meteorite current Beta Taurid from Comet Encke will go a bit closer to Earth than usual. This robbery object is in a 7-to-2 resonance with the planet Jupiter, meaning that they orbit around the Sun seven times each time Jupiter turns twice. The orbit of these buildings crosses the Earth, though they do not pass near our planet each year.
Telescopes will oversee the Tungus-sized object guard in the coming weeks, as the crap will go through our orbit late June, and continue until August, he said. He added that the evocation of Tunguska was not a coincidence because the object was "more than likely Beta Taurid" on the basis of the time he hit Earth on June 30, 1908.
Asteroid missions are in progress
Another aspect of the planetary defense is the study of nearby asteroids near the Earth. NASA's Mission OSIRIS-REx (Origin, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is located in the orbit of asteroid Bennu, and Japanese Hayabusa2 circulates with the asteroid Ryugu. It is expected that in the next few years both aircraft will deliver samples to Earth.
And there is still something to come. Patrick Michel, a sub-investigator of the upcoming Heroe asteroid mission, spoke of the progress of that European missile mission. It is expected that Hera will be launched in 2024 for the dual asteroid Didymos. What makes Hera unique from past missions is that it will work in tandem with NASA's Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test). DART will try to change the Moon's orbit from Didymos, and Hera will examine any crater DART leaves behind.
Hera is still in the planning stage and will pass through another important step in approval in November, said Michel. He added that this is an important milestone for the European Space Agency, as it could be "the only asteroid mission Europe could do in the next decade."
But asteroids are not just dangerous – they could become extremely valuable, says Marc Serres, executive director of the Luxembourg Space Agency. Since they contain water and minerals – resources that can be used for space missions – he said it's time to catalog, before we begin exploring the Sun's system. As people begin to move toward the Moon and other destinations, he said, it will be important to take as much as we can on the road.
"Using the resources we can find in the universe will revolutionize the way we act in space, because we do not have to do everything with ourselves," he said.