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Learn more about the Earth's threat on the International Asteroid Day

For the first time, astronomers have shown that telescopes can provide a sufficient warning for humans to move away from an asteroid strike on Earth.

Astronomers at the University of Hawaii used the ATLAS and Pan-STARRS Surveying Telescopes to locate a small asteroid before entering the Earth's atmosphere on the morning of June 22.

The 2019 MO asteroid had a diameter of 13 feet and was 310,685 miles from Earth. The ATLAS facility watched it four times over 30 minutes around midnight in Hawaii.

First, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Scout Impact Analysis software considered the potential impact as 2. As a reference, 0 is "unlikely" and 4 is "likely." Davide Farnocchia, Navigation Engineer at JPL, asked for additional observations as he noticed a discovery near Puerto Rico 1

2 hours later. The additional images of the Pan-STARRS telescope helped researchers to better determine the asteroid entryway, which raised the scout rating to 4.

The calculation was consistent, and the weather radar in San Juan recognized the asteroid as it burned in our atmosphere. It reached the atmosphere over the ocean, 236 miles south of the city.

ATLAS, two 100-mile telescopes on the Big Island and Maui, scans the entire sky every two nights for asteroids that might hit Earth. It can spot small asteroids half a day before they arrive on Earth and may show days earlier on larger asteroids. 2019 MO was small enough to burn in the atmosphere.

Although much knowledge has been gained about their abilities and determinations about the asteroid, astronomers believe that ATLAS and Pan-STARRS could help predict more in the future.

Asteroid Missions

Knowing the size and orbit of an asteroid is the main battle as it allows for predictions.

In a few years, the

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

will enable the discovery of tens of thousands of asteroids online that could bring them closer to Earth, said Ed Lu, Executive Director of the Asteroid Institute and former NASA -Astronaut.

"It's an exciting time for planetary defense because we're on the brink of new observations that will allow us to track ten times more asteroids than ever before," said Lu. "In about two years, the LSST will come in and its detection rate will be higher than that of any other telescope combined, and tens of thousands of asteroids will be found and tracked in the first year." 19659002] Missions such as the NASA OSIRIS-REx and the Japanese Hayabusa2 are investigating asteroids in our solar system and want to bring samples back to Earth in the coming years. The near-earth object camera NEOCam characterizes near-earth objects.

More missions are planned. NASA


which stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is a planetary defense test designed to prevent an asteroid from hitting Earth. DART, whose launch window will open in July 2021, will visit a binary asteroid system and try to distract a small asteroid.

DART will collide with a Didymos moon, a near-Earth asteroid of comparable size an asteroid that could pose a threat. The European Space Agency's supplementary Hera mission

will accurately measure how it has changed the speed of the larger asteroid and examine the DART impact crater to the moon.

Asteroid Awareness

Sunday is International Asteroid Day Earth's largest recorded asteroid impact focused on the actual danger of asteroids colliding with Earth.

In 1908, a powerful asteroid in a remote Siberian forest in Russia invaded the Podkamennaya Tunguska River. The event targeted trees and destroyed 770 square kilometers of forest, nearly three-quarters of Rhode Island. The impact knocked people down in a city 40 miles away. Shockwaves rippled around the world, and "glowing clouds" were seen.


recently investigated

the "cold case" of the Tunguska strike.

The impact occurred in such a remote area that only a few dozen people even saw it. Media speculated then that it could be a volcanic eruption or a mining accident. The idea of ​​an asteroid attack seemed farfetched, NASA said in a press release. However, researchers found neither asteroid fragments nor a crater.

"Tunguska is the greatest cosmic influence modern humans have experienced," said David Morrison, a planetary science researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center, in a statement. "It is also characteristic of the type of impact we are likely to face in the future."

Six years ago, an asteroid over Chelyabinsk in Russia entered the Earth's atmosphere. It exploded in the air and released 20 to 30 times more energy than the first atomic bombs and produced more brightness than the sun. It damaged more than 7,000 buildings and injured more than 1,000 people. The shock wave has broken windows at a distance of 90 kilometers.

It had gone undetected because the asteroid came from the same direction and path as the sun.

And it explains why astronomers and the group

want the astero day

people who are aware of it. According to a

Pew survey

62% of adults in the United States believe that one of NASA's top priorities should be the monitoring of asteroids or objects that could hit Earth.

This applies to NASA and other space organizations around the world focused on detecting the threat to near-Earth objects or NEOs, asteroids and comets, whose orbits place them within 30 million miles of the Earth.

There are no known NEOs that pose a significant threat. NASA's NEO program finances and builds on investigative and persecution efforts by observatories across the country and in space, and collaborates with observatories around the world.

Researchers modeled the events of Tunguska and Chelyabinsk on computers to understand how asteroid damage can occur in our atmosphere, even when they break apart in the air.

The analysis revealed a promising discovery. Four computer models came to a similar picture of what happened in Tunguska. The asteroid was probably rocky, not icy and had a diameter between 164 and 262 feet. He entered our atmosphere at a speed of 34,000 miles per hour. This generated the energy that corresponded to the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 between 6 and 9 miles above the ground.

The researchers found that the interval between such devastating potential asteroid impacts on Earth is millennia and not centuries. based on the known asteroid population.

"With so few observed cases, there remains a lot of uncertainty about how large the asteroids in the atmosphere will break up and how much damage they might do to the ground," said Lorien Wheeler, NASA Ames researcher working on the Asteroid Threat Assessment Project the agency. "However, recent advances in computational modeling and analysis of events in Chelyabinsk and other meteors help us better understand these factors so that we can better assess potential asteroid threats in the future."

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