Most of us probably don’t worry about asteroids on a daily basis, but for NASA, this is one of the threats to our planet that must be considered. In an effort to avoid meeting the same fate as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, NASA is planning to launch a space telescope to monitor for asteroids heading toward Earth.
The project, called the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM) will use infrared technology to scan for objects hurtling toward our planet. Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary sciences at MIT says, “Having knowledge of what’s out there is something that the planetary science community has been advocating for nearly 30 years. So this is a breakthrough decades in the making.” The project is estimated to cost between $500 and $600 million and could launch as early as 2025.
The telescope will be able to identify objects like the 20-meter wide asteroid which exploded over Russia in 2013, causing damage and injuring 1,400 people. When it comes to space, there is much we don’t know about its vast expanses, but having systems like the NEOSM in place allows us to monitor what we can about our mysterious universe.