Feeds

Killer asteroid hunter takes first snaps

Near-Earth objects beware

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The PS1 telescope. Photo: Pan-STARRS/University of HawaiiThe first of four powerful telescopes which will eventually be capable of locating 99 per cent of potentially-threatening near-Earth objects (NEOs) bigger than 300 metres has captured its first test images, New Scientist reports.

The Hawaii-based PS1 telescope - part of the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) project, and seen here atop Hawaii's Haleakala volcano - packs a 1.8 metre mirror, and although it's currently kitted out with a small test camera, this will be upgraded to a 300 megapixel device in September and subsequently to a 1.4bn pixel beast in March 2007.

All four PS telescopes should be deployed by 2010, after which they will "scan the whole sky visible from Hawaii three times per month".

The grand plan is the response to a 1998 Congress mandate which required NASA "to identify 90 per cent of NEOs larger than 1 kilometre across by the end of 2008". In 2005, Congress upped the ante by requesting that NASA "extend the search down to objects 140 metres across"* by 2020.

Nick Kaiser of the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu declared that, once fully operational, PS1 will be "by far the most powerful survey instrument" in the world for pinning down NEOs.

However, there is a catch, according to Brian Marsden, of the Minor Planet Centre at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Massachusetts. Because of its power, Pan-STARRS may be "the only game in town for a while", he explained. Accordingly, and because lesser instuments will not be able to track the orbits of newly-identified objects, the PS telescopes will have the additional burden of "doing their own follow-up work" in determining whether they pose a threat to humanity. ®

Bootnote

*For a moderately alarming simulation of how the impact of a 100km wide body on Earth would really put a downer on your day, check out this Japanese video. Crikey.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.