Asteroid tsunami: How ESA's new telescopes could save 'Tokyo from being WIPED OUT in 2028'
The simulations will be created by the European Space Agency (ESA), which paints a grim picture of panic in the lead up to any potential impact event. The agency said: “It’s the year 2028, and we’ve been carefully monitoring a worrying situation: an enormous asteroid is en route to strike Earth, although the exact point of impact is not yet clear. National governments are planning to evacuate millions of people, an undertaking that will cause untold human misery and disruption on a gigantic scale.
“If the asteroid’s impact zone can be fixed, perhaps such chaos can be avoided.”
In the simulation the final impact zone is predicted by the Flyeye telescopes designed and built by the ESA.
The system allows world Governments to make orderly evacuations that are instructed by precise data.
The ESA said that in the hypothetical video the initial prediction of impact is forecast to hit somewhere between Tokyo and Copenhagen.
But the Flyeye telescope system manages to give a more precise collision zone, thus saving mass evacuations of all cities and heavily populated areas within the trajectory of the asteroid.
The simulation shows Tokyo within the path of the asteroid
ESA Flyeye telescopes will track asteroids
The simulated scenario was presented by the ESA to emphasise the importance of their set of Flyeye asteroid tracking telescopes.
The purpose of the Flyeye telescopes is to hunt for threatening asteroids.
Up to four Flyeye Telescopes will be located worldwide.
Flyeye data will be sent to the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s Minor Planet Centre (USA), the world’s central clearing house for all asteroid sightings.
ESA asteroid experts work with other space agencies and European civil protection authorities to devise mitigation measures.
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Didymos asteroid up close
The telescopes are designed using a technique exploited by a fly’s compound eye, these bug-eyed telescopes split each image into 16 smaller sub-images, increasing the total amount of sky that can be observed and expanding the field of view.
By placing one in the Northern and one in the Southern hemisphere, the entire sky will be scanned within 48 hours.
Simulations have shown that about four asteroids larger than 1 meter can be detected every year before they will impact on Earth
ESA also supports asteroid warning and risk assessment activities at the United Nations, in cooperation with experts from the IAU and worldwide.
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Didymos is the target of a NASA-ESA mission
The DART NASA ESA mission
The ESA said: “As of March 2019, we knew of more than 600 000 asteroids in our Solar System.
“Of these, around 20,000 are near-Earth objects, 800 of which are in ESA’s risk list, meaning that they merit close follow-up observations.”
Asteroids are ancient space rocks left over from the formation of the Solar System, thought to have brought complex molecules and possibly early life to Earth, billions of years ago.
The Chicxulub asteroid is probably the most famous space rock in the world.
Although you may not know its name, its impact 66 million years ago is legendary causing a mass extinction event that saw most non-flying dinosaurs and many other species wiped out.
Impacts from such large asteroids are immensely rare, but small- and medium-sized rocks are far more common in the Solar System and can still do serious damage.
These asteroids sometimes reach the ground, but even those that disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere like the one that caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013 can create explosive airbursts, with resulting shockwaves that may shatter glass, damage buildings and injure anyone who happens to be nearby.
The term ‘near-Earth object’ (NEO) basically refers to any natural object, like an asteroid, whose orbit brings it close to Earth.
There are many near earth objects
The ESA and NASA are conducting a joint mission called AIDA.
The primary asteroid that they will target is called Didyos and is about 800m (2,600 ft) in diameter.
It’s small satellite is about 150m (490 ft) in diameter in an orbit about one mile from the primary.
Luckily, Didymos is not an Earth-crossing asteroid, and there is no possibility that the deflection experiment could create an impact hazard.
In order to become aware of the current and future position of near-Earth objects relative to our planet, we need eyes on the sky, scanning for potentially hazardous space rocks.