Asteroid Watch: The Pentagon's new telescope is wild!

Admin | Published 2016-10-20 04:00
The Pentagon is on the lookout for a killer asteroid - or two. The Pentagon's newest telescope will be positioned to detect objects as small as softballs at distances as far as 22,000 miles. Ever since the dawn of the Space Age, the Earth's immediate atmosphere has been littered with, well, debris. Lots of rocks, old satellites, boosters, and everything else.

Pentagon Asteroid DARPA

Additionally, telescopes from back then were focused on monitoring these debris, especially if they are about to make landfall on Earth. However, with 500,000 pieces (and more) to count, the Pentagon knew we should be looking for something else. DARPA's Space Surveillance Telescope was recently transferred to the US Air Force this week. The telescope's orbit mirrors that of Earths, but at a fixed point so it wouldn't interrupt satellite communications.

Pentagon Asteroid DARPA

However, its view is immensely vast. DARPA's program manager Lindsay Millar said it can view "tens of thousands of oceans." Sadly, the telescope can only view very large objects at a time. Regardless, this is extremely helpful for asteroid watches. Meanwhile, NASA will be using this technology to monitor those and other objects that can collide with the planet.

Pentagon Asteroid DARPA

 

Space awareness

The Space Surveillance Telescope is just one step closer to the Pentagon's goal of "space situational awareness." Various satellites are already used for intelligence, communication and even military purposes. However, officials and experts believe that we should always be on the watch for dangerous objects like an asteroid.

Pentagon Asteroid DARPA

In orbit, these debris move as fast as 17,500MPH. Even a fleck of paint can make significant damage given the right objective. However, in 2007, a missile that blew a dead satellite scattered thousands of debris around the world. Now, the U.S. is planning to build more durable satellites and smaller ones that are harder to target.

Pentagon Asteroid DARPA

Source: Washington Post
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