Canada to launch NEOSat, a satellite to detect asteroids / Canada prepara misión para identificar asteroides

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A rendering of NEOSSat(Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite

A rendering of NEOSSat(Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite)

This is exactly what I think nations with small budgets for space exploration like Canada should be doing, so listen up nations like Korea and Brazil, this is a good example of a niche area where even a nation with a comparatively small budget can make a difference. This satellite follows on the heels of MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars), another small and successful satellite/space telescope. Here's what the article says:

Scientists in Alberta have unveiled plans to launch a mini-satellite that will be able to track the skies day and night, and send back early warning of dangerous asteroids approaching Earth.

Currently, all asteroid tracking is done here on earth. The sun blocks astronomers' view and they can study asteroids only at night.

But the Canadian-designed NEOSat (Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite) is expected to launch in 2010 and its 15 cm-diameter telescope will do 24-hour tracking from space.

NEOSat is small -- described as the size of a large suitcase and weighing only 60 kilograms.
More on the advantages of NEOSat:

Advantages of the NEOSat observation system:

  • A darker sky and continuous availability
  • Can observe near the Sun and survey a little-known population of asteroids
  • Can determine distances to near-Earth asteroids using parallax
Apparently they are trying to get as much attention as possible, so they'll be pleased to know I've written this. Here is why they made the announcement now:

The UofC has been working with a contractor since 1999 on planning the project, and chose this week to announce the launch...Today, June 30, is the 100th anniversary of Tunguska Event, when a 50-metre meteorite crashed into a remote region of Siberia.

Tunguska's asteroid devastated more than 7,800 square kilometers and wiped out 60 million trees, with an unleashed energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb.

Hildebrand says there are thousands of asteroids winging through space at least three times bigger than the Tunguska object, and one of them could possibly destroy a major Canadian city.

Or some other major city. Now for an article on the same subject en español with my translation below:
Canadá está preparando una misión espacial para estudiar los asteroides que con potencial para amenazar a la Tierra.
Canada is preparing a space mission to study the asteroids that have the potential to threaten Earth.
La última vez que un asteroide chocó con la Tierra quedó destruido el 70 por ciento de la vida sobre el planeta.
The last time that an asteroid collided with the Earth 70 percent of the life on the planet was destroyed. (Note: do they mean the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous? Most think it's likely to have been caused by an asteroid but I saw an article just a few days ago about a theory that it was caused by changing sea levels. Also, there have been tons and tons of asteroid impacts since then.)
Para evitar que esto ocurra nuevamente, un grupo de científicos canadienses conducido por el geólogo de la Universidad de Calgary, Alan Hildebrand, organizó una misión única en su género, que partirá en 2010.
To prevent this from happening again, a group of Canadian scientists led by a geologist from the University of Calgary, Alan Hildebrand, organized a mission unique in its type, which will set off in 2010.

La misión, que se realizará gracias a la Canadian Space Agency y a la colaboración de las fuerzas armadas canadienses, enviará al espacio un satélite, de un costo de 12 millones de dólares, para rastrear algunas de las decenas de miles de estos enormes asteroides.
The mission, which will happen thans to the Canadian Space Agency and the collaboration of the Canadian Forces, will send a satellite to space with a cost of 12 million dollars, to trace some of the tens of thousands of these enormous asteroids.

En el sistema solar, según Hildebrand, hay alrededor de 100 mil grandes asteroides, pero sólo 5.000 de ellos fueron hasta ahora identificados y documentados.
In the solar system, according to Hildebrand, there are about 100 thousand large asteroids, but only 5,000 of these have been identified and documented until now.


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