Feeds

Killer asteroid hunter takes first snaps

Near-Earth objects beware

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.