Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




DEEP IMPACT
Amateur Skywatchers Spot Near Earth Asteroid Threat
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Oct 19, 2011


ESA's Optical Ground Station is located at the Teide Observatory, Tenerife, Spain. Credits: ESA.

For the first time, observations coordinated by ESA's space hazards team have found an asteroid that comes close enough to Earth to pose an impact threat. The space rock was found by amateur astronomers, highlighting the value of 'crowd-sourcing' to science and planetary defense.

The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program in September.

The four-night survey used the 1m-aperture telescope at ESA's Optical Ground Station at Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

This is not the first asteroid found under SSA sponsorship, but it is the first that qualifies as a 'near Earth object' - an object that passes close enough to Earth during its orbit around the Sun that it could pose an impact threat.

Images Require Human Evaluation
During TOTAS observations, the telescope runs automated asteroid surveys for several hours using software developed by amateur astronomer and computer scientist Matthias Busch from the Starkenburg Amateur Observatory in Heppenheim, Germany.

However, potential sightings must still be evaluated by humans.

The team comprises 20 volunteers, most of whom took part in the manual evaluation of images captured during the session on 28/29 September.

"Images are distributed to the entire team for review, and any one of them could be the discoverer of a new asteroid," says Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO activity for SSA. "This time, the luck of the draw fell to Rainer Kracht."

"As volunteer work, it is very rewarding. When you do spot something, you contribute to Europe's efforts in defending against asteroid hazards."

The orbit of asteroid 2011 SF108 brings it no closer than about 30 million km to Earth - a safe distance.

"When you do spot something, you contribute to Europe's efforts in defending against asteroid hazards."

The object is the 46th asteroid discovered by Mr. Kracht, a retired school teacher who lives in Elmshorn, near Hamburg, Germany. "Eight of us reviewed images on the night of the discovery, and I was lucky to be the one who found 2011 SF108 as part of this team," says Mr. Kracht.

"The discovery was only possible with the excellent software developed by Matthias Busch, who also spotted this object in the images on the second night and sent the observations to the Minor Planet Center."

To date, some 8000 NEOs have been discovered worldwide but many thousands more are suspected to exist, particularly in the size of meters to hundreds of meters. It is important to find and track these to determine if any pose an impact threat to Earth.

Amateur TOTAS Team Lays Foundation
TOTAS is helping to lay the foundation for a future European asteroid survey as part of the full SSA program, which is to be decided in 2012.

Such a survey would use multiple 1m telescopes to scan the complete sky every night, a much larger effort than at present, and is expected to discover several NEOs per week. It would use a mix of professional and 'crowd-sourced' astronomers.

Currently, professional asteroid surveys are performed only in the USA. The only significant asteroid survey in Europe now is the La Sagra Sky Survey, undertaken by amateur astronomers in southern Spain.

.


Related Links
ESA Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
Asteroid and Comet Impact Danger To Earth - News and Science






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DEEP IMPACT
Asteroid Impact on Earth: Experts Review Global Response and Mitigation Steps
Superior CO (SPX) Sept 01, 2011
A workshop has brought together leading representatives from space agencies and international experts to discuss key issues related to global response and cooperation in the event of a Near Earth Object (NEO) impact threat to Earth. The gathering of specialists took place August 25-26 in Pasadena, California. The meeting was co-organized and co-sponsored by Action Team-14, part of the Unit ... read more


DEEP IMPACT
Subtly Shaded Map of Moon Reveals Titanium Treasure Troves

NASA's Moon Twins Going Their Own Way

Titanium treasure found on Moon

NASA Invites Students to Name Moon-Bound Spacecraft

DEEP IMPACT
Mars Landing-Site Specialist

New Mystery on Mars's Forgotten Plains

Russian scientists want to join Europe's ExoMars mission

UK Space Agency announces seed funding for Mars exploration

DEEP IMPACT
Space tourism gaining momentum

NASA Veteran Alan Stern to Lead Florida Space Institute

Astrotech Subsidiary Awarded Task Order for NASA Mission

ASU in space: 7 current missions, more in the wings

DEEP IMPACT
China's first space lab module in good condition

Takeoff For Tiangong

Snafu as China space launch set to US patriotic song

Civilians given chance to reach for the stars

DEEP IMPACT
Ultrasound 2: Taking Space Imaging to the Next Level

CU-Boulder to play key role in global student space experiment competition

It's All in the Mix With Fluid Physics in Space

DLR ROKVISS robotic arm returns from space

DEEP IMPACT
Soyuz is put through its paces for Thursday's launch

Russia blames scientists for rocket crashes

Space Exploration Technologies Ready to Compete for Upcoming DoD Launches

Huge stakes riding on maiden Soyuz launch from Kourou

DEEP IMPACT
UChicago launches search for distant worlds

UChicago launches search for distant worlds

Astronomers Find Elusive Planets in Decade-Old Hubble Data

University of Texas-led Team Discovers Unusual Multi-Planet System with NASA's Kepler Spacecraft

DEEP IMPACT
Apple profit soars but misses high expectations

China rare earths giant halts output as prices fall

Camera lets people shoot first, focus later

German satellite to crash to Earth 'at the weekend'




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement