Avoiding Space Disasters
It is scary to think that there is a meteor moving towards us somewhere in the solar system. Until now, scientists have had no chance to discover such a danger before it is too late. Fortunately, thanks to the advanced telescopes of our time, we are able to recognize objects that come towards us even in the depths of space. In this way, we may have a chance to change the direction of the sky stones that are in danger of hitting the Earth.
RESEARCHING THE SKIES
The Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico is one of the largest telescopes in the world. The telescope’s 300-meter diameter dish is placed in a pit. Instead of collecting the light, it searches for radio waves in space. Such telescopes can detect asteroids when they are millions of kilometers away.
Telescopes in orbit can explore space much better. Once an asteroid is identified, its path can be calculated and understood whether it will pose a danger to the Earth. The most dangerous asteroids are those over 100 meters in length and less than 10 million kilometers from Earth.
In 1994, astronomers managed to take photos of a collision in space for the first time. When Shoemaker Ley’s comet landed on Jupiter’s path, it broke up into 20 parts and scattered across the surface of the giant planet.
In 2029, the Apophis asteroid will quickly pass very close to Earth. Apophis is about 200 meters long and weighs 3 million tons.
More than 5,000 asteroids roam the Solar System, potentially dangerous.