NASA has started making a telescope that will look for asteroids and keep Earth safe.
NEO Surveyor is a new space telescope that was made to help NASA’s efforts to protect the planet by finding near-Earth objects (NEOs) that get close to Earth’s orbit and could do a lot of damage.
NASA said in a statement last month that the telescope is designed to find 90% of asteroids and comets that are 460 feet long or longer and come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
When will the NASA’s NEO Surveyor telescope be ready?
NASA said in a statement last month that the telescope is moving into its final design and building phase and that its technical, cost, and schedule baselines are being set.
The telescope won’t go into space before June 2028 at the earliest, and it will be able to find NEOs within a decade of taking off.
Are We Threatened by Asteroids?
NASA says that there isn’t a big chance that any known NEO will hit Earth in the next 100 years, but unknown NEOs could.
Ground-based telescopes are still important for keeping an eye on the sky, but a space-based infrared observatory is the ultimate high ground that will help NASA’s planetary defence strategy, said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defence officer.
In 2013, an asteroid the size of a house broke up just 14 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia. The explosion released the energy of about 440,000 tonnes of TNT and caused a shock wave that spread over 200 square miles and hurt over 1,600 people, broke windows, and damaged buildings.
Johnson said, “The Chelyabinsk event made a lot of people think about what more needs to be done to find even bigger asteroids before they hit Earth.” “This was a wake-up call from space.”
NASA says that asteroids and comets were the building blocks of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. This mission will help us learn more about where they came from and how they changed over time.
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Now that NASA can deflect asteroids, it needs to find them
NASA crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid in September. This was a success for the agency’s plan in case a huge asteroid ever threatens Earth.
About 7 million miles from Earth, the 1,260-pound Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft hit the 520-foot-long, 11-billion-pound asteroid Dimorphos at 14,000 miles per hour. The spacecraft hit the asteroid about 55 feet from its Center.
Amy Mainzer, the mission’s survey director at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said, “For the first time in Earth’s history, people are coming up with ways to protect Earth by deflecting dangerous asteroids.” “But before we can turn them away, we have to find them first. NEO Surveyor will change the way this is done.”
The Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or NEOWISE, NEO Surveyor is the first spacecraft built to find a large number of dangerous asteroids and comets. Its predecessor mission ended in 2011.
How Will NASA’s NEO Surveyor journey through space?
NEO Surveyor will spend its first five years travelling millions of miles to find the hardest-to-find objects close to Earth.
The spacecraft will look for Earth Trojans, which are asteroids that are usually hidden by bright light, using instruments that can find things that light up in infrared wavelengths when heated by the sun.
The spacecraft will first go to the L1 Lagrange point, which is between Earth and the sun. From there, it will move through the solar system in a gravitational orbit.