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« Open Letter to George Bush | Main | Humor Break »

Keeping An Eye Out

This isn't news any more (it was published in February), but Paul Dietz had a post that I just found out about describing a new asteroid-hunting scheme that seems very promising:

All NEOs down to a few hundred meters in diameter will be found. If any are possibly going to hit Earth soon, we'll know.

Good. We can't do this too soon.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 28, 2006 06:08 AM
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Totally cool

I can't wait until I can get a gigapixel camera to take backpacking!!



Posted by Dennis Ray Wingo at April 28, 2006 07:05 AM

Thanks for the link. :)

The 'all' in that quote should be understood in a statistical sense, since the detection rate will decline with time, and at some point the benefit (from avoided expected impact damage and from the science returns) may not justify additional observing time. I think they expect to detect 99% of the impact-relevant NEOs.

Posted by Paul Dietz at April 28, 2006 08:20 AM

The link to the PanSTARRS-1 project status still says "first light early 2006", but now that we're in 2006 Q2, still no word on if they've got it up and running yet, unfortunately. I was hoping for some cool images already captured by PS1.

And, yes, Paul, the relative value will likely diminish over time as we asymptotically approach 100% detection, but I think it would still be worth keeping our eyes open for asteroids shot at us from distant galaxies by hostile extraterrestrial forces (a la StarShip Troopers). Or, more realistically, for any future extra-solar comets that decide it's time to enter our sun's gravity well as they're passing by.

Posted by John Breen III at April 28, 2006 08:36 AM

Like most space missions, I'm pretty sure that the operations costs for this device will be much lower than the development cost, and once people start seeing all it can do they'll come up with other things for it to do as well. In the meantime, NEO and other discoveries can continue in the background.

Posted by Tom at April 28, 2006 10:41 AM

The dirty little secret about this is that it is funded by the USAF. And they're not interested in asteroids.

So it will probably keep running for quite awhile.

Posted by Tom Shembough at April 28, 2006 10:59 AM

Why is that a "dirty" secret, Tom?

Posted by Barbara Skolaut at April 28, 2006 11:37 AM

"Why is that a "dirty" secret, Tom?"

It's a figure of speech. Lighten up.

Posted by Tom Shembough at April 28, 2006 03:00 PM

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