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 Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab
15.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity
15.08.2018 | University of California - Riverside

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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>