Scientists have deployed amazing sunset telescopes to search for Earth-destroying killer asteroids that until now have remained hidden.
Detecting killer asteroids in time would be the difference between saving Earth or letting it be destroyed. However, there are many more asteroids in the solar system that we are not aware of yet. According to NASA, space agencies around the world are currently tracking 29,000 asteroids out of the millions of space rocks that could be floating around. This happens mainly because the Sun’s glare makes it impossible to see any asteroids during the day. So there’s a high chance that one day an asteroid will come too close to Earth and we won’t be able to do anything about it. To solve this challenge, scientists have found a unique solution – the twilight telescope.
In a new study published in the journal Science, researchers claim that twilight telescope surveys could be the key to detecting unseen asteroids. “We’re doing a full-fledged survey looking for anything moving around Venus’s orbit, which is where we haven’t really probed deep in the past with anything else. that’s pretty hard to do, and in general, larger telescopes don’t have a very large field of view so you can’t cover much of the sky,” said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer. at the Carnegie Institution for Science told Space.com.
The Twilight Telescope could help scientists detect never-before-seen asteroids
The Twilight telescope is not a special kind of telescope. It is simply a new method of surveying the sky 10-15 minutes before sunrise and 10-15 minutes after sunset to avoid the glare of the sun. Although sunlight still causes problems in viewing images, it is not as impossible as during the day. Sheppard herself conducted a twilight survey using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile.
And these efforts are already starting to show results. The Blanco Telescope has discovered asteroid 2020 AV2, which is 1-3 km in size. It had not been seen before because the asteroid orbited the sun in a closer orbit than Venus. This close proximity to the Sun results in image processors failing to select the asteroid amid the Sun’s glare.
As can be seen, this method is not comprehensive, but it is a first step and can help discover many asteroids that the world has not known so far. However, it also means that many asteroids can still stalk us during the day when the Sun’s glare is at its brightest.