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Space Technology

Tiny Satellite Set To Hunt Asteroids 78

Posted by kdawson
from the with-its-tiny-little-eye dept.
coondoggie writes "Canadian scientists are developing a 143-lb microsatellite to detect and track near-earth asteroids and comets, as well as satellites and space junk. The suitcase-sized Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite includes a 6-inch diameter telescope, smaller than most amateur astronomers' scopes, that by being located 435 miles above the Earth's atmosphere will be able to detect moving asteroids delivering as few as 50 photons of light in a 100-second exposure. The NEOSSat will twist and turn hundreds of times each day, orbiting from pole to pole every 50 minutes, almost always in sunlight. The telescope has a sunshade that allows searching the sky to within 45 degrees of the Sun, in order to detect near-Earth asteroids whose orbits are entirely inside Earth's." The probe was announced a few days before the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska blast.
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Tiny Satellite Set To Hunt Asteroids

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm huntin' asteeroids.

  • by Anonymous Meoward (665631) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:20AM (#23966143)

    Any technology that can promise to shoot Bruce Willis into space one day is worth pursuing.

    (Just get Steve Buscemi back please.)

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#23966347)
      I'm sorry, I can't morally support any government project that leaves Bruce Willis in space but allows Ben Affleck to return.
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      (Just get Steve Buscemi back please.)

      I've always thought of these guys as the 'Odd Quad':

      Steve Buscemi
      Willem Dafoe
      James Woods
      Christopher Walken

      Kind of weird-looking, but always worth watching.
  • Suppose it spots something on a crash course for the Earth, what next? All that will happen is that we know something is heading our way. Bruce Willis is too old to go up to space!

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by drspliff (652992)

      Can we send Bush and Cheney with him? Everybody has to die someday right...

    • by eln (21727)

      Oh come on, they shipped Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner into space together, so surely Bruce Willis could still go up. Hell, Robert Duvall managed to get his geriatric ass up there and blow up most of a comet and save Earth!

      I think it's pretty clear that the answer to our future space emergency needs is to send up senior citizens.

    • Suppose it spots something on a crash course for the Earth, what next? All that will happen is that we know something is heading our way. Bruce Willis is too old to go up to space!

      Ask Chuck Norris do a couple of push ups...

    • by Jerry (6400)

      They are NOT looking for objects on a "crash course for Earth". The article stated that they were looking for asteroids whose orbits lie ENTIRELY WITHIN the Earth's orbit. IF the asteroid's orbit does not cross the Earth's orbit then only those satellites whose orbits are tangent to the Earth's orbit or within 3,800 miles will impact the Earth. I suspect that the number of asteroids with those orbital parameters are so small as to be nearly non-existent.

      The real question is why are they looking for aster

  • Insert coin (Score:5, Funny)

    by Applekid (993327) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:32AM (#23966277)

    Once the satellite is equipped with a gun, it can shoot the big asteroids into two smaller ones, and each of those asteroids into two even smaller ones. Hitting the smallest ones will make them disappear.

  • space junk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thermian (1267986) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:35AM (#23966319)

    I'd say its more likely that the space junk detection bit will be more useful in the short term, since it'll need a whole lot more then this to stop another one like the Tunguska impactor.

    What we need is a way of finding and clearing out the near earth orbitting man made crap so we can reliably place constellations of satellites in orbit, and open up commercial travel.

    I want to see active asteroid mining taking place, and for that we need clear skies. Hundreds of ships going up and down a day will mean its absolutely required.

    • Re:space junk (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cavis (1283146) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:39AM (#23967167)
      From what I understand, NASA already tracks a large number of these objects from earth so they can avoid the debris. You don't want a launch a satellite or the Space Shuttle just to have it collide with Ed White's glove or Michael Collin's camera. The bigger problem is there are thousands of very small particles that came from explosions. Much of that debris has fallen back into the atmosphere and burnt up, but there is quite a bit still up there.

      The bigger question is: How do we clean it up?
      • by thermian (1267986)

        The bigger question is: How do we clean it up?

        Large clouds of nano tube mesh netting launched into orbit that would catch the smaller bits. Larger bits would need specially designed retrieval craft.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        There are a number of excellent and somewhat obvious theoretical schemes for cleaning it up. The two most practical which come to mind are an army of microsats with solar power and ion drives which will just run around and bump them towards the atmosphere, or a smaller array of satellites with lasers which zap the stuff in order to deorbit it. Just make sure that your microsats/etc are going to properly deorbit themselves :P
    • Mod me OT but I just can't take it....

      it'll need a whole lot more then this to stop another one

      A whole lot more then .... what?

      Do you mean that the impact will be greater now then then?

      Will it be greater then or less then...

      This post was brought to you by the letter "A"

      • by thermian (1267986)

        grammar corrections are for essays and homework, not internet forums where typing is often fast. Get used to that or get another hobby.

    • by Krishnoid (984597)

      I'd say its more likely that the space junk detection bit will be more useful in the short term, since it'll need a whole lot more then this to stop another one like the Tunguska impactor.

      Done [schlockmercenary.com]. Next problem?

  • More info at. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Overkill Nbuta (1035654) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:43AM (#23966425)
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:44AM (#23966439) Homepage
    ... THIS [skyrocket.de] is tiny!
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Actually most of the Ham radio microsat's are way WAY smaller than that behemoth.

  • Satellite swarms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OpenSourceNut (1136825) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:45AM (#23966461) Homepage
    It should be noted that this year is the 400th anniversary of the telescope.

    Maybe they will soon figure out how to etch a telescope on a circuit board and send swarms of thousands of networked satellites out there to look for these asteroids.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Maybe they will soon figure out how to etch a telescope on a circuit board

      You probably can already do this with radio telescopy, using arrays of fractal antennas. However, the processing power required might be somewhat excessive for current satellite applications.

      We do also have super cheap camera-on-a-chip type stuff, I mean that's what's in an optical mouse for example. And now there are these electrowetting zoom lenses. So maybe you could put an array of those into a satellite, and do some kind of cheaper processing magic (or just send all the data to earth) and do some usefu

  • I'd be surprised if there was not a shocking number of lethal-to-all-life-on-earth sized rocks that almost hit us on a regular basis.

  • Seven hundred years go by, the lonely little satellite still searching fruitlessly for killer asteroids. Then one day, he meets a girl space probe..
  • At least I think we do even for Space.
    • by VoxMagis (1036530)

      It depends - if it's NASA calculating, some are using metric, some imperial, and a few using 'teeny-weeny'

    • Not Yet (Score:3, Funny)

      I checked the Periodic table [wikipedia.org] and couldn't find Klingonium (Kg). I believe it will be discovered somewhere in the 160-190 range of atomic numbers as a metaloid with an irregular "ridged" f orbit electron pair. Mark my words...
  • In the Wired issue on petabyte computing, they mention a telescope that will photgraph the entire sky at ultrahigh resolution every three days. These will be compared to earlier full sky photos to look for NEO etc. This survey acquires terabytes a night, hence inclusion in the article.
  • by owlnation (858981)
    It's not hunters, it's WHALERS you insensitive clod.
  • that's a tiny asteroid hunting satellite.
  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:43AM (#23967231) Journal

    by the PETA. People for Ethical Treatment of Asteroids.

  • Real numbers (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by jeevesbond (1066726)
    Up here in Canada (and most of the world) we're fans of the metric system. So, here's the summary for everyone outside the US:

    "Canadian scientists are developing a 65 kilogram microsatellite to detect and track near-earth asteroids and comets, as well as satellites and space junk. The suitcase-sized Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite includes a 15 centimetre diameter telescope, smaller than most amateur astronomers' scopes, that by being located 700 kilometres above the Earth's atmosphere will be able

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SBacks (1286786)

      The telescope has a sunshade that allows searching the sky to within 45 degrees of the Sun,

      Don't you mean 0.785398 radians?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Don't you mean 0.785398 radians?"

        Gosh, no. He means a nice, even pi/4 radians, not some arbitrarily truncated number.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The following article http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/asteroids puts the whole thing in a more somber perspective.

  • Step 1) Find NEO's
    Step 2) Plant Canadian Flag on NEO's for future mining.
    Step 3) Canadian Profit!
  • I'd have thought that with the amount of idle time on telescopes (both professional and amateur), it would be a simple matter to rig captured time lapse images and transit them to a central server, to compare the locations of observed anomalies with those held from historic records, to verify old data and find new NEOs. Seems like a great distributed computing project to me.
  • Coverage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:36AM (#23968151)
    Does anyone care to do the math and report back with the percentage of coverage?
  • Sat Stats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by condition-label-red (657497) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:45AM (#23968275) Homepage

    Interesting maneuvering method: solar powered magnetic fields -- no fuel needed.

    NEOSSat

    Telescope: Able to look for objects near the sun - a task virtually impossible to do from Earth.

    Extends 30 centimetres.

    Weight: 65 kilograms

    Power: 45 watts with favourable orientation of solar panels

    Propulsion: Solar-powered magnetic "fingers" push against the Earth's magnetic field. It will never run out of propellant.

    Orbit: Sun synchronous, 800 km above the Earth, orbiting pole to pole

  • "Canadian scientists are developing a 143-lb microsatellite to detect and track near-earth asteroids and comets, as well as satellites and space junk."

    So when this thing dies it becomes what it was once tracking. Not to say that this may not have value, just sort of ironic that is doomed to become what it observes. (Unless of course it falls out of orbit and burns up in the atmosphere.)
  • by Kingrames (858416) on Friday June 27, 2008 @01:58PM (#23970677)

    I can just picture it, the final boss shows up...

    "That's no space station..."

  • So, we send a soon-to-be-space-junk to track OTHER space junk ? :/

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