NASA Reactivating Spacecraft To Hunt For Near-Earth Asteroids

This artist's drawing shows the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist’s drawing shows the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE spacecraft, in its orbit around Earth. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is bringing a retired spacecraft back into service to help search for asteroids that could pose a danger to Earth, the space agency announced on Wednesday.

The spacecraft’s three-year mission will begin next month “with the goal of discovering and characterizing near-Earth objects (NEOs), space rocks that can be found orbiting within 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) from Earth’s path around the sun,” NASA said in a statement.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, had been out of service since February 2011, after a 13-month mission to ” look for the glow of celestial heat sources from asteroids, stars and galaxies,” NASA said, calling its work ” the most accurate survey to date” of near-Earth objects.

Universe Today says the WISE spacecraft “has been sleeping in a polar orbit around Earth for two years” and “will be turned back on next month to hunt for more potentially hazardous asteroids, and perhaps search for an asteroid that NASA could capture and explore in the future.”

Reuters reports:

“NASA already has found about 95 percent of the near-Earth asteroids that are .62 miles or larger in diameter.

“The agency is about halfway through a 15-year effort to find 90 percent of all near-Earth objects that are as small as about 459 feet in diameter.

“The search took on a note of urgency after a small asteroid blasted through the skies above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 and exploded with 20- to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. More than 1,500 people were injured by flying glass and debris.

“Later that same day, a much larger but unrelated asteroid soared closer to Earth than the networks of communication satellites that ring the planet.

“The events prompted Congressional hearings and new calls for NASA and other agencies to step up their asteroid detection initiatives.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Read original article
NASA Reactivating Spacecraft To Hunt For Near-Earth Asteroids

Recent headlines

  • Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

    Juneau Assembly names new hospital board members

    The Juneau Assembly has appointed Dr. Bob Urata and Lance Stevens to the nine-member Bartlett Regional Hospital board. Urata is a physician with a longtime practice. Stevens is a former president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.
  • (Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife)

    More snow means moose move to roads

    Recent heavy snow accumulation is pushing moose onto Alaska roads increasing collision danger. When snow piles up, you’re more likely to encounter moose on roads.
  • A map of the favored proposed route to Katzehin. (Map courtesy Alaska DOT)

    Juneau Assembly votes 6-3 to support the road

    The Juneau Access Project envisions 50 more miles of road up Lynn Canal to a ferry terminal closer to the road system. It has divided the Juneau community for decades and faces significant opposition from other southeast cities including Haines and Skagway. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker pulled the plug on the $574 million project last month.
  • Vote postponed over Juneau’s controversial ‘camping ordinance’

    The Juneau Assembly heard more than 90 minutes of testimony from dozens of residents including merchants, social workers and homeless people themselves who all agreed on one thing: Juneau has a serious homeless problem. But speakers had radically different viewpoints.
X