Feeds

USAF raygun boffins clocking planet-buster asteroid threats

Really, Really Distant Early Warning line in Hawaii

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

US airforce raygun boffins have awarded a further $7m in funding to a project which detects and tracks asteroids which could hit Earth and kill us all.

Defense Industry Daily reports that the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PanSTARRS) project, run by the US Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate and the University of Hawaii, has been funded for another year.

According to DID, quoting official spokesmen, it isn't an air force mission as such to protect the Earth from asteroid strike. However the US Congress has said that American government organisations should make an effort to help locate and catalogue all space objects larger than 1 kilometre in size which might hit the planet, and that seems to have been enough to keep the PanSTARRS effort going. Kilometre-plus asteroids are hefty enough that such an impact might seriously threaten human civilisation, or even (in the case of really large asteroids) humanity's existence.

Astronomers at Hawaii Uni say that:

Pan-STARRS should quickly help finish off the Congressional mandate [and] will be able to push the detection limit for a complete (99%) sample down to objects as small as 300-meters in diameter. Such objects, while not capable of wiping out life on Earth, would cause considerable local and/or regional damage should one collide with our planet.

Even once all the Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and ordinary asteroid-belt boulders of planetbusting size have been nailed down, humanity can't quite relax. There might be Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), or comets, with tremendously long orbital periods - perhaps only plunging into the inner system to menace Earth every century or so.

But clocking all the nearer and more visible stuff would certainly eliminate a big portion of the risk, so we can all be grateful to the USAF raygun boffins and their Hawaiian telescope project. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
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.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.