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Tiny Satellite Set To Hunt Asteroids

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the with-its-tiny-little-eye dept.

Space 78

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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They should check around Uranus (0, Redundant)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966111)

First to make that bad joke! YES!

Re:They should check around Uranus (0, Offtopic)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966161)

That's hemorrhoids, not asteroids, you insensitive clod!

Re:They should check around Uranus (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967705)

I thought they call them assteroids nowadays...

Re:They should check around Uranus (0, Offtopic)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967777)

Actually, it's more important to check for Klingons...

Re:They should check around Uranus (1)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966181)

Satellite easy to spot, has the 'ass orgy' license plate hanging off it.

Beee Vewwy Vewwy Quiet... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966135)

I'm huntin' asteeroids.

There is hope (4, Funny)

Anonymous Meoward (665631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966143)

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

(Just get Steve Buscemi back please.)

Re:There is hope (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966347)

I'm sorry, I can't morally support any government project that leaves Bruce Willis in space but allows Ben Affleck to return.

Re:There is hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23967131)

Sure but which one would you rather watch fuck Liv Tyler?

Re:There is hope (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967271)

I wouldn't enjoy watching anyone doing anything to Liv Tyler that might lead to her reproducing.

Re:There is hope (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968711)

I wouldn't enjoy watching anyone doing anything to Liv Tyler that might lead to her reproducing.

Kicking her ass out of Hollywood and sending her to work in a Kinko's might be acceptable.

Re:There is hope (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969731)

I wouldn't enjoy watching anyone doing anything to Liv Tyler that might lead to her reproducing.


Kicking her ass out of Hollywood and sending her to work in a Kinko's might be acceptable.

HEY! HEY! HEY!

What's up with the Liv Tyler bashing.

I take offense at that and since nowadays ANYTHING someone else MIGHT take offense at seems to have become immoral, I demand you CEASE AND DESIST immediately.

Your next question will be "or else what"

Because if you don't,...I'll do...something...

Sheeessss ppeeerrrrttttty...

---
The proceeding was sarcasm. This warning placed for those who have no understanding of the term.

Re:There is hope (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23971661)

Eh?! What's wrong with Liv?! I'll hear nothing bad said against her. Liv, darling, don't listen to the nasty men. She was goooood in Plunkett & Macleane [imdb.com] . It's a damn good Arts Council of England film. Yes, I know no-one has ever heard of it. And I know it's only at 5.9 on IMDB. Damn idiots, the lot of them.

Re:There is hope (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23978409)

(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.

Spotted (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966195)

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:Spotted (0, Offtopic)

drspliff (652992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966303)

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

Re:Spotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23967091)

They are prepping Celine Dion to shatter it with an ultrasonic note like a kidney stone.

Re:Spotted (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967961)

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.

Re:Spotted (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968577)

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...

Re:Spotted (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 6 years ago | (#23971355)

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 asteroids that will never hit the Earth? What's the purpose?

Why Did I Think of This? (-1, Redundant)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966273)

Be vewy, vewy quiet! I'm huntin' fo' wabbits!

Re:Why Did I Think of This? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966619)

I don't know, but you put an extra word in the quote. There is no "fo'".

Re:Why Did I Think of This? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23970697)

I don't know, but you put an extra word in the quote. There is no "fo'".

Unless, of course, it went something like this: "Quiet, bitch! I'm huntin' fo' wabbits, yo, gonna pop a cap in their ass."

Insert coin (5, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Insert coin (3, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966525)

Sadly, that only works when the asteroids are two-dimensional and hollow. However, the threat of randomly shooting flying saucers is now negligible.

Re:Insert coin (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968737)

Just shoot them with a four-dimensional projectile, from whose perspective they are two-dimensional and hollow. YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND TIME CUBE!

Re:Insert coin (2, Funny)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969765)

Scientists have released an interactive computer simulation [goriya.com] demonstrating how the new system would work.

Re:Insert coin (1)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23973449)

"Tiny Satellite Set To Hunt Asteroids"

Canadian Scientists' next project?

"Giant Space Hockey Stick"

space junk (4, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

cavis (1283146) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?

Re:space junk (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968133)

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.

Re:space junk (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968771)

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

Grammar much? (1)

scipiodog (1265802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968613)

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"

Re:Grammar much? (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23970401)

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

Re:space junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23970879)

..a way of finding and clearing out the near earth orbitting man made crap ..

Send up yet another man made satellite to find orbiting man made crap.

I know:

Put a tracking beacon on it, and it will find at least itself.

Brilliant, I say, brilliant!

Re:space junk (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 6 years ago | (#23972017)

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?

It even has theme music. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966333)

Dum, dum, dum
Dum, da dum. Dum, da dum.
Dum, dum, dum, Dum, da dum. Dum, da dum.

Tiny?? That's not tiny.... (3, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966439)

... THIS [skyrocket.de] is tiny!

Re:Tiny?? That's not tiny.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966583)

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

Re:Tiny?? That's not tiny.... (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23971731)

For sure. AO-51 [amsat.org] weighs 11kg. That's about 24lbs for you Americans. Have to buy a beam, and then I can work it [youtube.com]

Satellite swarms (4, Interesting)

OpenSourceNut (1136825) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966461)

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.

Re:Satellite swarms (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968837)

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 useful science with that? I don't know if it's possible to make those kind of things in an inherently radiation-hardened process or not, though.

Searching for asteriods now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23966551)

It may be searching for asteroids now, but one day soon the satellite will become self-aware and start searching for Sara Connor.

So what (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967595)

Since it's madly spinning around in the depths of space and since any potential Sarah Connors mostly likely aren't in space I don't see this being a major problem.

Be vewy vewy quiet... (-1, Redundant)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966601)

I'm huntin' astwoids!

Presumably we'll find tons (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966665)

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.

This film based on a true story (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966749)

Seven hundred years go by, the lonely little satellite still searching fruitlessly for killer asteroids. Then one day, he meets a girl space probe..

Don't we work in Kg (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966783)

At least I think we do even for Space.

Re:Don't we work in Kg (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966939)

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

Not Yet (2, Funny)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967325)

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...

How does this comparre to "synoptic sky survey"? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23966923)

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.

No! (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967161)

It's not hunters, it's WHALERS you insensitive clod.

That's no moon... (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967229)

that's a tiny asteroid hunting satellite.

This is absolutely not approved (4, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967231)

by the PETA. People for Ethical Treatment of Asteroids.

Re:This is absolutely not approved (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967493)

i wish i had mod points. = /

Real numbers (0, Flamebait)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967241)

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 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."

Emphasis mine. Am hoping CmdrTaco isn't going to sue me Associated Press style for copying the summary. ;)

Re:Real numbers (2, Funny)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967477)

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

Don't you mean 0.785398 radians?

Radians and Degrees Re:Real numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968023)

yeah to using Radians... I was, like, um, totally confused when the summary said "45 degrees of the sun" because, like, I thought to myself... hey man, isn't the sun, like, a lot hotter than 45 degrees...like tens of thousands degrees hotter? But then your radians comment got me to thinking about math class the other day and how geometric stuff can also have degrees and how you have to have some pie and convert to these radians things, so I did, like, a wikipedia lookup, and now I understand that Radians are "Rad"
I still don't understand the "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon" since I'm pretty sure he's still alive and regular body temperature is, um, like 38 degrees C or 98.6 degrees F. but that is like TOTALLY off topic.

TDz.

Re:Radians and Degrees Re:Real numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968689)

Regular body temperature is 37C, not 38. (Yeah, I know, I know, whoosh and all that)

Re:Radians and Degrees Re:Real numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23974289)

So, yeah... way to totally steal all the comments from the recent "Plants grow at 70 degrees" story last week, but you managed to make them not funny. Great.

Re:Real numbers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968317)

"Don't you mean 0.785398 radians?"

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

Conversion for the purpose of summary? (1)

CanadianRealist (1258974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968289)

I know this is Slashdot, so RTFA means nothing but...

The linked to article uses metric!!

So it looks like someone went to the trouble to doing the conversions just to write the summary.
Is that an attempt at being extra nerdy? Making an unnecessary and pointless conversions.
So then all the "real" nerds can then do the conversion back to metric/scientific units, in their heads.

More serious then the replies here imply (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23967369)

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

Damned Canadians are taking over the solar system! (2, Funny)

mr_nazgul (1290102) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967485)

Step 1) Find NEO's
Step 2) Plant Canadian Flag on NEO's for future mining.
Step 3) Canadian Profit!

Distributed computing project? (1)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23967875)

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.

The upcoming Orbit@Home project... (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 6 years ago | (#23969343)

Received its funding from NASA a little while back.

http://orbit.psi.edu/

You can already sign up! [psi.edu]

Coverage (2, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968151)

Does anyone care to do the math and report back with the percentage of coverage?

Re:Coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968993)

Does anyone care to do the math and report back with the percentage of coverage?

50% coverage with a 100% percent margin of error

a rare funny line from Armageddon.. (1)

oneTheory (1194569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23974929)

Truman (to President): "Well, our object collison budget's about a million dollars. That allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and begging your pardon sir, but it's a big-ass sky."

Sat Stats (3, Interesting)

condition-label-red (657497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968275)

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

Re:Sat Stats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968805)

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

Sounds like magnetorquer coils. They probably also have reaction or momentum wheels on board for very stable pointing.

Space Junk? (1)

thervey (1216980) | more than 6 years ago | (#23968713)

"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.)

Whaaat, eh? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23968883)

Wait... lemme get this straight. In order to track junk in orbit, we're going to... shoot more junk into orbit? Who's running Canada these days?

(Ironic captcha of da day: failed)

I'd totally play that game. (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#23970677)

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

"That's no space station..."

Mod this offtopic if need be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23971067)

...but I had to call attention to the current Slashdot quote on the footer:

"Now here's something you're really going to like!" -- Rocket J. Squirrel

Did anybody else spew their Pepsi through their nostrils and almost onto the keyboard with this one? I read it, sat quietly for a few seconds while sipping a soft drink, then the implications suddenly clicked in my mind and boom!

Had to investigate who the hell Rocket J Squirrel is (spoilers ahead, half the charm lays in the mystery), and lo and behold, Google made sense of everything, he's called Rocky for short and his best pal is a moose.

#irc.trooltalk.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23973567)

BSD culminated 1n a relatively

Spacejunk? (1)

crapdot (1226746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23997725)

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