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New tool uses history to discover possible asteroid impact

New tool uses history to discover possible asteroid impact

More than 100 previously unknown asteroids have been discovered with a new tool that can search existing big data archives to find them Space rocks can be dangerous.

The discoveries were announced Tuesday by the B612 Foundation, a California-based nonprofit focused on tracking objects in the solar system and protecting the planet. Near-Earth Asteroids.

The organization said its newly developed platform, known as Asteroid Detection Analysis and Mapping, or ADAM, is an open source, cloud-based system that allows researchers to discover newly discovered asteroids without the need for additional astronomical observations or the need for new asteroid searches. to start. telescope.

Instead, the system’s algorithm combines points of light corresponding to asteroid orbits from stacks of archived night sky images. If the cosmic object is confirmed to be an asteroid, the algorithm can calculate its orbit and begin tracking the space rock, according to the B612 Foundation.

As such, “any telescope with an archive can now become an asteroid-hunting telescope,” said Ed Low, a former NASA astronaut and executive director of the B612 Foundation’s Asteroid Institute.

“We are using massive computing power not only to enable further discoveries with existing telescopes, but also to find and track asteroids in historical sky images that were previously unnoticed because they were not designed to find asteroids,” Lu said. He said in a statement.

Nearly 30,000 asteroids have been discovered near Earth so far According to NASA. Of these, the agency is particularly interested in a small subset of space rocks, which are at least 460 feet in diameter and oscillate within 4.6 million miles of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

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To test the asteroid detection and mapping analysis system, the platform was used to search through images collected over a 30-day period by the National Optical and Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, a state research facility in Tucson, Arizona. The images come from the lab’s collection of nearly 68 billion astronomical observations collected between 2012 and 2019.

The search yielded 104 newly discovered asteroids, which have been confirmed and added to the Minor Planet Center’s asteroid registry. Founded in 1947, the Minor Planet Center is the organization responsible for cataloging asteroids, comets, and other objects in the Solar System.

“The Asteroid Institute’s work is important because astronomers have pushed the boundaries of what can be detected with current technologies and telescopes,” said Mario Yurick, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Washington who was involved in the research. .

Juric developed the new algorithm with Joachim Moeyens, an associate student at the University of Washington.

The system uses Google Cloud to store huge amounts of data and perform the complex calculations involved in examining every point of light.

The asteroid detection and mapping analysis platform offers scientists a new way to search for asteroids and complements research conducted by NASA and other space agencies.

“Detecting and tracking asteroids is critical to understanding our solar system, enabling space development, and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts,” Lu said.