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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scientists Working On New Asteroid Detection Systems

In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru a meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (Chelyabinsk.ru/AP)

In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru a meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (Chelyabinsk.ru/AP)

Following the meteorite strike in Chelyabinsk, Russia, asteroid detection systems are getting more attention.

A team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii is developing Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), with the help of a $5 million NASA grant.

Under the guidance of ATLAS project head John Tonry, the team is working to build a series of small grounded telescopes to track near earth objects or NEOs.

The B612 Foundation is a nonprofit that’s working to build a space telescope to do the same thing.

On February 25th, the Canadian Space Agency is scheduled to launch NEOSSat (the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite).

Officials with the ATLAS project think it’s possible to “provide a useful degree of warning for most impacts, meaning a day for a 30 kiloton ‘town killer’, a week for a five megaton ‘city killer’ or three weeks for a 100 megaton ‘county killer.'”

Guest

  • Denis Laurin, Senior Program Scientist with the Canadian Space Agency.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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