Asteroids predicted to be within 5 million miles of the Earth are considered a potential threat by NASA. While this seems like a long distance, gravity could bring the orbit of an asteroid ever closer to Earth, which can eventually lead to an impact.
A proactive approach is certainly preferred for this type of work, and the Earth obviously needs more eyes to watch out for such threats. Just last month, an asteroid called "Murderer" surprised scientists. At a speed of 24 km / s, the huge space rock known as the Asteroid 201
The Arecibo Observatory will also analyze and categorize NEOs to inform future space mining and sampling emissions. "With our system, we can constrain the size, shape, mass, spin state, composition, binary, trajectory, and gravity and surface environment of NEOs, which will help NASA identify potential targets for future missions," says Anne Virkki, principal investigator for the observatory's planetary radar program.
Part of the $ 19 million grant will also be used for a MINT education program at the STAR Academy (Science, Technology and Research) in Puerto Rico. 30 high school graduates per semester are informed in 16 sessions about the science and research at the Observatory.
Since the mid-1960s, the 1,000-foot radio telescope has been in operation and served since its determination of rotation for various purposes Mercury time to transmit a bitmap image to hypothetical aliens at 25,000 light-years distance. The institution has occasionally faced financial problems, but with this new grant the Arecibo Observatory will continue to operate for the time being.