The world’s telescopes found a record number of near Earth objects (NEOs) in 2014, with 1,470 asteroid discoveries in the past year. This was a 42 percent increase over the number of NEOs found in 2013. The running total of Near Earth Objects (with known orbits) reached 12,043 by the end of the year.
The Pan-STARS system in Hawaii found 619 NEOs, and the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona tagged another 611. A brand new system in Chile designed to track distant galaxies in the southern sky — the Dark Energy Survey — discovered a further 131 Near Earth Objects.
While this is excellent progress, there is still much work to be done in this field. The still-unseen near Earth asteroids and comets, larger than 1 meter in diameter, are estimated to number more than two million.
Of the NEOs tracked to date, 1,533 are cataloged as “potentially” hazardous to Earth. None of these actually threaten Earth now, but NEO orbits are not stable and random events can move them into new trajectories that could be problematic. The official definition of potentially hazardous covers NEOs that come within 4.65 million miles of Earth and are at least 150 meters in size – about 500 feet – large enough to level Los Angeles or London.
However, the Chelyabinsk air burst in 2013 caused extensive property damage and the object was less than 20 meters in diameter. Including Chelyabinsk-size asteroids would boost the potentially hazardous count to about 10,000 objects.
As the number of identified Near Earth Objects continues to grow, so does the need for reliable methodologies of mitigating the threat of object impact. Deep Space Industries is developing an Electromagnetic Regolith Rocket that can use an asteroid’s own surface soil as propellant to alter the objects trajectory. This rocket is specifically designed to deflect threatening objects that are discovered with only a few year’s warning before impact. This innovative technology would replace the controversial approach of using nuclear weapons to blow up asteroids, which would produce debris with hard-to-predict trajectories.
News from Deep Space:
Deep Space Industries (DSI), a leading space technology company, announced today the closing of the first tranche of its Series A funding round. The company raised just over $3.5M from private investors. The funding will be used to develop Meteor, the company’s new launch-safe bipropellant rocket engine, and continue the ongoing development of the Xplorer spacecraft, the company’s deep space exploration platform scheduled for launch in 2020. Read More…
Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced today that it has signed a contract to provide its Comet water-based satellite propulsion systems for the BlackSky Earth observation constellation of smallsats. DSI will provide an initial block of 20 water thrusters for the BlackSky satellites which are scheduled to start launching later this year.Read More…
Deep Space Industries announced today that it has signed a contract with Astro Digital to provide several Comet water-based satellite propulsion systems. Comet is a simple, launch-safe, and cost-effective electrothermal propulsion system that uses water as a propellant and can be customized for nearly any small satellite application.Read More…
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