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NASA 'Scout' Detects Asteroid Speeding Towards Earth, Identifies 15,000 More

Oct 31, 2016 11:07 AM EDT

What if there are thousands of perilous asteroids speeding towards Earth as of this moment? NASA's data proved that it could be. NASA cataloged about 15,000 asteroids near Earth and some them may have a tendency to hit the planet in the future.

Last Saturday, a report claimed Earth had an intruder in the form of an asteroid that sped towards the planet's direction. But astronomers were able to detect ahead that the asteroid won't hit the Earth although it will pass by at a very close distance.

Astronomers used NASA's SCOUT tool to detect near-Earth asteroids. Scout is currently being tested at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. In order to detect space rock 'intruders', the SCOUT program will calculate the speed and path to see if the asteroid will hit the planet. The system will then send commands to other telescopes to see if follow-up observations are required.

"Objects can come close to the Earth shortly after discovery, sometimes one day, two days, even hours in some cases," Davide Farnocchia from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement. "The main goal of Scout is to speed up the confirmation process," Farnocchia added.

As of today, NASA had already cataloged 15,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). In an average, 30 new discoveries are added every week. This number showed a 50 percent increased from the identified numbers in 2013.

The last to be identified was 2016 TB57 discovered last Oct. 13. 2016 TB57 was discovered using Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Arizona. The object at 50 to 115 feet will pass by the Earth at a safe distance on Oct. 31.

Thanks to new technologies used by astronomers, the numbers of identified asteroids doubled. This is a success for the scientific world. "The rising rate of discovery is due to dedicated NEO surveys and upgraded telescopes coming online in recent years," NASA's NEO Observations program manager Kelly Fast said in a press release. "But while we're making great progress, we still have a long way to go."

These different technology aims to develop man's ability to predict the path of asteroids since some of them might be detrimental to life on Earth. "While no known NEO currently poses a risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years," NASA planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson said in a statement. "We've found mostly the larger asteroids, and we have a lot more of the smaller but still potentially hazardous ones to find," Johnson added.


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