Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UK Astronomers Watch the Skies for Threat from Space

13.10.2004


British astronomers are providing a vital component to the world-wide effort of identifying and monitoring rogue asteroids and comets. From this month, the UK Astrometry and Photometry Programme (UKAPP) for Near-Earth Objects, based at Queens University, Belfast, will track Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and feed their crucial information into the international programme of protecting the Earth from any future impact by a comet or asteroid.



On average 30-40 NEOs are discovered each month - asteroids and comets that could one day collide with the Earth. Over 3000 NEOs have now been found, and a world-wide effort involving professional and amateur astronomers attempts to keep track of these objects. Now a team of astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast will be tracking these objects each week using large high-performance telescopes.

UKAPP is using the Faulkes Telescope North, a robotic telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui built primarily for educational use by the Faulkes Telescope Project. At the end of this year they will also start using the twin Faulkes Telescope South at Siding Spring, Australia. The telescopes’ mirror size of 2-m allows astronomers to see fainter NEOs than most other facilities regularly used for this task. Test observations took place in September, and the full programme begins in October. The work is supported by a grant from the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the Particle Physics Research Council (PPARC).


Dr. Alan Fitzsimmons, the project leader, said “Previously we used UK-funded telescopes on La Palma, but for various reasons they could only track a couple of objects per month on average. The robotic nature of the Faulkes telescopes means that it is much easier for us to observe numerous NEOs than can be achieved by using conventional telescopes.” Once the images of the NEOs are taken, Dr Fitzsimmons and his colleagues transfer them to an astronomical computer network in Northern Ireland via the internet. The positions of the NEOs are then measured and communicated to the Minor Planer Center in Harvard in America; the world’s clearing house and repository for measurements of NEOs.

Although most of the time will be spent tracking NEOs, some of the time will also be spent studying their physical make-up. Dr Fitzsimmons said “This is not only scientifically interesting. If we are going to be hit by one of these things in the future, we need as much information as possible to allow us to plan any course of mitigation”.

An important aspect is that school classes and science centres around the country can also do this work. In a separate endeavour from UKAPP, the Faulkes Telescope Project assists school children to track NEOs using specially designed educational projects.

Dave Bowdley, Faulkes Telescope Educational Programmes Manager said, “This project provides a fantastic opportunity for schools to work alongside the professionals in an exciting area of research.”

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object
23.05.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence
23.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>