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News – Canadian space laser draws asteroid that could threaten Earth


AND ALL YOU AND BYD HYN | What's Incoming – the biggest news coming down to the Earth from space

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist / Science Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 5:43 PM – With NASA's OSIRIS-REX spacecraft arriving at Bennu, laser Canada is now working to map the huge asteroid, starting a mission that can, one day, help us save the world.

On Monday, December 3, after more than two years, and traveled a distance of more than 2 billion kilometers by space, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft finally reached its destination – a large asteroid called 101955 Bennu.

This is not landing, as an InSight NASA mission, which set on Mars Elysium Planitia on November 26. Instead, OSIRIS-REx – short for Originau, Spectral Finterpretation, Resource Fidental, Secwiti – Regolith Excarrier – has drawn and accelerated speed with determining asteroid, from a distance of only 19 kilometers away from it.

Now, as it gives NASA to look at the close asteroid of this Earth, the spacecraft begins to map its facial features in detail using a Canadian-built laser.

Over the next year, OSIRIS-REx will make closer pushings of Setting poles, and eventually engage closely enough to collect a sample of the asteroid surface, to return to us, here on Earth.

OSIRIS-REx to Determine approach, from 2.2 million km on August 17, 2018 to 65 km only on November 27th. Credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Arizona University


The contribution of Canada to the OSIRIS-REx mission is a tool called OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter or OLA.

Basically, OLA, provided for the Canadian Space Agency mission, is a laser range detector. It works the same as a radar, but instead of bouncing radio waves off the target, it uses laser light.

When setting a rotation under the spacecraft, OLA fails to face the surface with two laser, and it records the time the laser light takes to cover the distance to the target and the back. As the laser light speed is constant, the OLA science team can use these timing measurements to get the exact distance between the spacecraft and the asteroid surface, which will allow them to build a complete 3D map of asteroid features .

The scams of OLA are so bad that the resulting map will have a decision of about 7 centimeters per pixel, which will be good enough to choose individual stones on the surface of the asteroid!

CLICK I AMLI The laser of Canada will make a 3D map of asteroid and slip out the best sample site for the NASIR OSIRIS-REX mission. Credit: Canada Space Agency

As shown in the graphics above, these are not high density lasers. Overall, the tool uses a power that is equivalent to a 75W light bulb! This is more important than you could think. Read on, below, why.

The Canadian Space Agency only provided this part of the mission. It is also run by Canadian scientists!

The main scientist for OLA is Dr. Michael Daly from the University of York, with fellow scientist deputies of Dr Catherine Johnson, from the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Jeff Seabrook, who is also from the University of York.


If there is one object in space that has triggered the greatest interest by scientists, and have inspired the most breathing, rigid headlines in the tabloids, it's set asteroid.

After discovering back in 1999, there is currently a rubble pile in space & # 39; Half-kilometer currently occupies the re-to-top van on NASA Sentry Risk Board – the list of potentially dangerous asteroids that are closely watched, because at least some opportunity, but small, they can, at some point, affect the Earth.

Difficulty & # 39; This has made Setting a priority in the scientific community, but it has also taken the asteroid to the media, so it appears in other tabloid articles, together with headings in Note that we are inevitable in the hands of this object.

Why is the # 2 asteroid threat getting so much attention?

Although the highest asteroid on the list, known as 29075 (1950 DA), is more and faster, and thus it would cause much more damage during effect, only one possible potential potential object could be & # 39 ; This is Earth – on March 16, 2880. Setting, on the other hand, makes a little more compelling story when you try to grow asteroid threats of space.

This animation of Determination was collected by OSIRIS-REx cameras when the spacecraft was about 80 kilometers of the asteroid. It shows a Determination full rotation, over 4 hours and 18 minutes. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Arizona University

Setting is not only big enough to cause significant harm if it hit us, but it also goes through a series of coolings with Earth, all of which come across the asteroid to become closer and closer to every subsequent close meeting, resulting in a total of 78 possible potential effects between the years 2175 and 2199.

Note: Although this is a rather daunting fact about Setting, it is important to remember that only 0.0094 per cent of the Earth's chances are on the greatest possible effects – on September 24, 2196. Or, to & # 39; w put it in another way, there is a chance of 99,9906 per cent long lost! Even the cumulative The likelihood of the impact of each of the 78 events, with each other, is only a chance of 0.037 percent (or a chance of 99.963 per cent). So we do not speak in certainty, here, by any part of the imagination! Only that, given what is at stake – that can be destroyed widely across the Earth – even these are enough for NASA to take a look, and maybe do something for a day.

Everything starts in 2060, when Setting is going to fly past the Earth at a reasonable distance of about 750,000 km, or just less than twice the distance to Lleuad. This passes completely safe, but at that time, the Earth's gravity is expected to give a small gap to determine, so when it comes back for its nearest closest method, on September 25, 2135, when the asteroid is known to be fly past us the interior of the moon's orbit, there is some uncertainty about exactly how much the interior of the orbit of the Moon will be. It could be about 300,000 km away (approximately 80 per cent of the Moon distance), or it can be as close as 100,000 km away (less than 1/3 the distance to Lleuad).

The 2135 pass is also completely safe, by the way. There is no chance for the asteroid to hit Earth at the time, although it flies past us inside the moon's orbit. The chances, however, depend on the proximity that Bennu comes to us, it will fly through the so-called gravity lock hole & # 39; – a small point in space, formed by the gravity attraction between Setting the Earth, which could cause a significant change in the asteroid orbit onwards.

If Setting goes through one of the key holes & # 39; This little bit, the change in its orbit may be enough to turn one of the possible effects between 2175 and 2199 to have a real effect.

There is a lot of uncertainty and ifs & # 39; part of Future Setting, but this is something OSIRIS-REx will help us, by resolving those uncertainties.

The main spaceship of spacecraft is mapping Determine and return samples of it at home, but it will also gather information that will help us to track the asteroid more accurately and could give us ideas that will allow us to extinguish the asteroid ( and others like this), which we should do sometime in the future.


A way OSIRIS-REx can help protect the Earth from effects is by looking at how Determination reacts because it absorbs sunlight and sprays surface heat. Does its rotation change? Does its orbit change, even the least?

These types of changes are derived from what is known as the Yarkovsky effect.

We do not see it in everyday life, here on Earth, because there are too many competing forces (severity, friction, air resistance), but any light-emitting object proves pushing & # 39; Very weak of all photons leaving his face. This is called radiation pressure, and is caused by the photon that carries momentum with it as it leaves the surface of the object, which – due to Newton's Third Law – results in equal response and contrasting & # 39 ;, increasing the momentum of the object opposite the emission of the photon's address.

In space, far from any competing forces, this momentum exchange can have a much more impact, especially on an object such as a rotating asteroid.

As an asteroid, such as Setting, absorbs solar radiation on its side of Sun wards, and emits red-face photons from face to face (ie: heat), every momentum given to asteroid from every photon that leaves push & # 39; effectively on the asteroid. As it takes time to absorb the solar radiation can be regraded as heat, it's push & # 39; Stronger of leaving photons coming from parts & # 39; and nights & # 39; the asteroid. In general, this means that the object is push & # 39; along the direction of its orbit, as well as from the Sun. So over time, Setting is slowly overticated quickly from the Sun. If Setting had to rotate in the other direction, it would be split into the outside, towards the Sun.

Watch below to see the impact of Yarkovksy in action, and how OSIRIS-REx will help

Due to its proximity to Setting, OSIRIS-REx can track the orbital route and the asteroid rotation rate carefully, to see how these might change over time.

The data that the ship ship sends us can help us develop the harnessing methods of the impact of Yarkovsky, allowing us to protect the Earth from asteroid threats.

Forget to blow asteroids with nuclear weapons, or send people (oil drills?) To plant bombs inside them. Instead, a robotic spacecraft designed to change the way in which a hazardous asteroid absorbs and emits light can be used, by spraying different surfaces, or by changing the amount of sunshine that can reach the asteroid. Therefore, we would use the principles of radiation pressure and the impact of Yarkovsky to its advantage, to cause the asteroid to gradually fall from its impact trajectory, and safely safer.

Sources: NASA | NASA | CSA


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