Asteroids pose a great danger to humanity. But soon we could track potentially dangerous asteroids heading to earth as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has approved the development of a space telescope. The Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission or Neo Surveyor development is moving to the next stage. NASA said that the Neo Surveyor has passed key reviews. Engineers could now start building new parts of the telescope. They are expecting to launch the mission as planned for 2026. Delighted by the development, Amy Mainzer – who leads the project – said, “I am over the moon. We are very happy to do our part of the job that could help people forget worrying about the impact of asteroids on the earth.”
Experts believe that an asteroid needs to be tracked at least five to ten years in advance to protect the earth from its impact. But there is far no way to do it. At present, most of the asteroids approach our planet without anyone seeing it. This is because telescopes researchers have right now on the ground are capable of doing only limited surveillance. Certainly not enough to warn people about the possible hazardous coming towards the earth. According to Paul Chodas, the manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, these asteroids need to be found as early as possible. “Dinosaurs did not have the provision to track asteroids and everybody knows what happened to them. But we have a space program and if we are given enough time, we can possibly do something about these possible threats,” Chodas was quoted as saying in a report.
Scientists believe that NEO Surveyor would help them track nearby asteroids and they could possibly chart their paths and if required, humans could have a shot at destroying or deflecting them if any of the space rocks pose any threat to Earth. But the biggest problem that researchers face is that currently available telescopes can only observe the sky at night. This essentially means that no one can track any activity that happens during the day if asteroids come from the direction of the sun. But NEO Surveyor would use infrared lights and therefore it could be able to track asteroids that are even too dark for Earth-based telescopes. Work on such kind of telescope started in 2005. The initial deadline to complete the project was 2020. The idea to build an asteroid-hunting space telescope was submitted by Mainzer in 2006. But the US space agency declined to take it on as a mission. The proposals were submitted by Mainzer again in 2010 and 2015 but no decision was taken. It became an official NASA mission in the year 2019.