Feeds

Killer asteroid hunter takes first snaps

Near-Earth objects beware

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.