Developing A Way To Study Asteroids

877 words - 4 pages

It has always been a worry of researchers that at any moment an asteroid may hit Earth and cause significant damage. Only recently (the past hundred years or so) have people been able to make equipment powerful enough to detect asteroids coming toward Earth and orbiting Earth. This is a very important step in preventing damage to our fragile planet.
One of the first asteroids orbiting Earth discovered was 1 Ceres by Piazzi in 1801 (Gehrels, 1999). Since all of the asteroids back in the 1800’s were found just by looking up at the sky, it was a very slow going process finding them. In 1891, Max Wolf decided that taking pictures of the asteroids would be a more efficient way of keeping ...view middle of the document...

This speed breaks up the asteroid and causes pieces of certain sizes to explode in mid air. The rest of the broken pieces slam into the ground, typically destroying anything in their paths. It is thought that the original asteroid was about 60 meters in diameter.
In 1969, it was decided that building a telescope that was specifically designed to detect small objects was needed (Gehrels, 1999). At that time, creating such an advanced telescope was beyond any technology that was available. Finally in 1980, the Spacewatch telescope was proposed (McMillan, 2014). There was not enough funds to go to big name companies for parts and materials, so the telescope had to be made privately. It took years to make (Gehrels, 1999). The main goal of Spacewatch is to detect small objects in our galaxy to study their movements and histories.
Currently the B612 Sentinel telescope is being developed. It will be sent off to orbit the sun in somewhat the same way that Venus does (Making the Map). The goal of the Sentinel mission is to catalog 90 percent of asteroids in our galaxy that are 140 meters or larger. However, it will be possible for Sentinel to find meteors as small as 30 meters. This would be the most efficient asteroid finding telescope to date. Since it will take such a long time to finish building and testing this telescope, scientists think that a 2017 launch date is possible (Making the Map). That seems so soon after having looked at how, not long ago, we were only using our eyes to find asteroids. ...

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