It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s it’s a UFO???? Like their are not enough problems in the world, now space has to give everyone an attitude. Last week was a of spectacular spacial events with a meteor smashing and crashing into Russia, a light show over San Francisco, and astronomers in Australia witnessing an asteroid pass Earth. A week full of coincidences is what scientist are calling it, but it does raise the question why didn’t anyone see it coming? There is no early warning system right now, but many countries believe after last week that a system needs to be in place especially because things could of gone very differently last week. As the meteor smashed into pieces over Russia, one piece manage to crash into a frozen lake instead of a nuclear disposal facility that would of caused greater damage and loss of life. Luckily, the Chelyabinsk, Russia 55 foot asteroid sent out a shock wave from its mid air explosion that managed to shatter windows across the area leaving 1,200 people injured and thousands of buildings damaged. What shall we do?
Have no fear, Hawaii has come up with a solution to prevent other close calls like the asteroid 2012 DA14 last week and the unexpected meteor blast over Russia. One team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii is developing a warning system to help safe guard the planet from surprise attacks. The new Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) scheduled to be ready in 2015 will have 8 small telescopes equipped with cameras that are a 100 megapixels in resolution and fixed mounted at one or two locations in the Hawaiian Islands. The system will offer one week warming for a 50 yard asteroid that could wipe out a whole city and three weeks for a 150 yard space rock that could wipe out a whole country. John Tonry, a University of Hawaii astronomer, says that the time allotted will allow time to evacuate the area, take measures to protect the infrastructure, and alert of tsunami dangers generated by ocean impacts. Had the larger asteroid 2012 DA14 hit the Earth, the 130 foot asteroid would of obliterated the city of Chelyabinsk according to scientist and NASA observations. The asteroid on Friday came as close as 17,200 miles of Earth well inside Earth’s communication satellites however it never posed a threat. The ATLAS telescope will scan the skies twice a night in search of objects that may be asteroids. The ATLAS project will receive $5 million in funding over five years from NASA’s Near Earth Observation Program. Besides asteroids, ATLAS will also search for dwarf planets, supernova explosions and other cosmic objects.