A lot of attention has been paid in recent years to the asteroid threat issue. The International Asteroid Patrol has been set up to monitor the flight of potentially dangerous celestial rocks in visual diapason. However, the accuracy of optical methods for determining the trajectory leaves much to be desired. That accounts for inaccuracy of numerous forecasts predicting the date when the space "killer" is to collide with the Earth.
The scientists of the Radio-Astronomical Institute (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) have suggested that RT-70 radio-telescope (located in the town of Yevpatoria) should be used to determine and refine the coordinates of selected asteroids. The radio-telescope is equipped with a special guidance system which permits to point the telescope at any spot in the sky. The specificity of RT-70 is its ability to perform two functions: to send radio signals into space and to receive them. There are only two of such universal telescopes in the world.
The Kharkov radio-astronomers have carried out the first radio-location session. The RT-70 telescope antenna radiated radio-frequency pulses in the direction of 1998 WT 24 asteroid, and the echo pulse was synchronously received by Russian and foreign radio-astronomers at several antennas simultaneously. Application of the radio-interferometry method, i.e. coordinated effort of several radio-telescopes located at a distance from each other, allowed to determine the celestial body coordinates at that point with the highest possible precision, and, consequently, to calculate its trajectory. A successful experiment of this type, which took place for the first time in the world, proved that the radio-location method could discover an asteroid, calculate peculiarities of its orbit and surface when it was at a large distance from the Earth.
Valentina Gatash | alfa
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