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Asteroid Intruder Alert System Caught Sunday Night's Flyby

Asteroid Intruder Alert System Caught Sunday Night's Flyby

(Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:56 PM

An asteroid ‘intruder alert’ system that warns when near-Earth-objects pose a threat to Earth came in handy Sunday night when an asteroid passed by without any real threat.

The asteroid was a little too close for comfort – 310,000 miles to be exact – considering that the moon is 240,000 miles from Earth, the Christian Science Monitor noted.

The asteroid wouldn’t have been spotted if it weren’t for the new intruder alert system – called Scout – that NASA created to detect and track NEOs.

To determine whether a NEO is dangerous, Scout alerts NASAs telescopes collecting sky data and prompts them to pay closer attention to the NEO, determining if an ‘intrusion’ is possible, reported Slash Gear.

“Objects can come close to the Earth shortly after discovery, sometimes one day, two days, even hours in some cases,” NASA Jet Propulsion Lab’s Davide Farnocchia told NPR. “The main goal of Scout is to speed up the confirmation process.”

“If you know well in advance [about a threat from an NEO], and by well in advance I mean 10 years, 20 years, 30 years in advance which is something we can do, then you can divert such an asteroid by just giving it a tiny nudge when it’s many billions of miles from hitting the Earth,” said Ed Lu, astronomer and CEO of B612, a company that deals with asteroid threats.

Scout is just the beginning of NASAs efforts though. NASA plans to use technology like Scout to not only spot threatening NEOs, but to also divert the objects.

NASA has spotted about a quarter of these massive NEOs, but they hope to be able to one day spot at least 90 percent of them.

“I believe in the next 10 to 15 years we’ll actually be at the point where we as humans can say, ‘Hey, we’re safe from this danger of large asteroids hitting the Earth,” Lu said.

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An asteroid ‘intruder alert’ system that warns when near-Earth-objects pose a threat to Earth came in handy Sunday night when an asteroid passed by without any real threat.
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2016-56-01
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 02:56 PM
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