Around two months ago, an asteroid capable of destroying a city just missed Earth by a tiny bit. The worst part is, we were only able to detect the asteroid a day before it came near our planet – definitely not enough time to prepare a full-scale evacuation of a city!
The new planetary-defense telescope will be based on infrared, based on the initial “NEOCam” project proposed in 2012. Classifying the project as “defense” rather than a “scientific project” allows NASA to receive a larger budget for the mission.
NASA was tasked by Congress long ago
NASA was actually commissioned by the US Congress with detecting 90 percent of NEOs (Near Earth Objects) by 2020. It seems that NASA is back on track to complete that objective, however it is unlikely that they complete the project before 2020. The new satellite will allow NASA to discover 65% more satellites compared to before within the first 5 years. Eventually that number will increase to 90% as the telescope learns more, and peers deeper into space.
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Lori Glaze, director for the planetary science division, says:
I think this is a big step, it’s something that we’ve wanted to do for quite a while.
Cover Image Source: solarseven/Getty Images/iStockphoto via Washington Post