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Posts Tagged ‘Telescope’

Asteroid Telescope: Scientists Unveil Plan To Protect Earth From Rogue Space Rocks

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2012

By ALICIA CHANG AP Share on Google+

Asteroid Telescope

LOS ANGELES — Who will protect us from a killer asteroid? A team of ex-NASA astronauts and scientists thinks it’s up to them.

In a bold plan unveiled Thursday, the group wants to launch its own space telescope to spot and track small and mid-sized space rocks capable of wiping out a city or continent. With that information, they could sound early warnings if a rogue asteroid appeared headed toward our planet.

So far, the idea from the B612 Foundation is on paper only.

Such an effort would cost upward of several hundred million dollars, and the group plans to start fundraising. Behind the nonprofit are a space shuttle astronaut, Apollo 9 astronaut, former Mars czar, deep space mission manager along with other non-NASA types.

Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. Most reside in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but some get nudged into Earth’s neighborhood.

NASA and a network of astronomers routinely scan the skies for these near-Earth objects. And they’ve found 90 percent of the biggest threats – asteroids at least two-thirds of a mile across that are considered major killers. Scientists believe it was a 6-mile-wide asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Telescope team plans to track the whole sky

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 25, 2011

A European project that will allow astrophysical events to be tracked across the whole sky for the first time has begun

Testbed: the KAT-7 telescopes in South Africa

and is already recruiting its personnel. Funded with €3m from the European Research Council over the next five years, the 4 Pi Sky project will use a combination of ground- and space-based telescopes to study rare events such as colliding neutron stars and exploding supernovae.

4 Pi Sky combines three separate terrestrial telescopes systems. One is the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), consisting of some 10,000 dipole antennas across Europe, that will be used to track objects at a frequency range of about 30–240 MHz. The others are the MeerKAT array in South Africa and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia, which will be used to track phenomena at higher frequencies of about 1 GHz.

Linking telescopes

When combined, the telescopes will be able to monitor the whole sky, as scientists will be able to link from telescope to telescope to follow transient phenomena as the Earth rotates. Using this technique, researchers are expected to find and track thousands of new events that would have previously been missed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Living with a star

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 10, 2010

Physics world

Launched in February, data from the sensitive suite of instruments aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are already reshaping what we know about solar processes and the causes of space weather, says Alan Title

The Sun is at its most beautiful when it is at its most dangerous. That beauty is visible down here on Earth in the form of the northern and southern lights, which appear when charged particles from the Sun strike the Earth’s upper atmosphere. But out in space, the consequences of Sun-caused “space weather” are not so benign: the high-energy particles, X-rays and gamma rays that the Sun emits can damage sensitive electronics, crash computers and have dangerous (possibly even fatal) effects on astronauts.

Most of the time, the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from the more violent events that occur in the solar atmosphere, such as explosions near the Sun’s surface (known as solar flares) or eruptions of huge bubbles of gas from inside the Sun (called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs). Even so, when charged particles from the Sun hit the Earth’s magnetic field, the field gets distorted and compressed. The resulting changes in the densities of charged particles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere can produce significant effects. Radio communications can be disrupted and, sometimes, such changes can induce damaging currents in long power lines, buried cables and oil pipelines. Giant flares have even destroyed power transformers and brought down electrical grids.

Yet like the auroral displays, the solar processes that cause space weather are also stunningly beautiful. The image on the left shows a ring-shaped prominence erupting from the surface of the Sun, sending a pulse of plasma rushing outwards at a speed of about 300 km s–1. Before the eruption, this prominence existed as a long tube of relatively cool, magnetically contained material just above the visible surface. It was then destabilized by mechanisms that are not completely understood. Such mechanisms are important because they can produce CMEs, which can launch up to 10 billion tonnes of hot plasma into the heliosphere – with serious consequences for any object, human or otherwise, that happens to be in the way. Read the rest of this entry »

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