April 27, 2021, 13:30 GMT
The system would be able to locate and track asteroids five kilometers in diameter 400 times faster than any other current detection mechanism, allowing a greater margin of time to successfully intercept them or prepare for a potential impact.
NASA recently approved the first phase of a system that would protect the planet from the impact of dangerous asteroids, plus it would make space mining possible for new resources.
The project is called Sutter Ultra The American company is developing it Trans AstraFormed by former NASA engineers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its primary goal is to build systems that allow humanity to expand through the solar system.
However, one of the prerequisites for completing this journey is that no asteroid or other celestial body affects our planet and endangers the human race. Although there are currently mechanisms that monitor and predict the movements of the largest asteroids near Earth, the There are millions of unknown things that you could avoid being detected And appear in our skies by surprise.
This was the case Chelyabinsk meteorite, Which exploded in Russian airspace in 2013, injuring nearly 1,500 people and causing millions of dollars in property losses. The meteorite was only 17 meters in diameter and the blast that triggered it was 31 times more powerful than that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Experts believe that it could have had dire consequences for the inhabitants of the Russian city if it entered the atmosphere from another angle.
Sutter Ultra will be able To identify and track asteroids with a diameter of five kilometers 400 times faster than any other current detection system, allowing a greater margin of time to successfully intercept or prepare for a potential impact.
According to TransAstra, the system will cost less than $ 400 million to build and will consist of Three satellites orbiting the sun parallel to our planet. Each satellite will contain two matrices for More than 100 telescopes 30 cm each, arranged in such a way that it covers a wide field of view. These arrays will rotate every five hours and the image from both telescopes will be combined and processed by AI algorithms Only be able to find objects with a diameter of 5 meters. The satellites will be launched into space in one flight of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX.
Another great advantage of the Sutter Ultra system is that it will allow mining in space, as it will direct robotic spacecraft in orbit at small asteroids with valuable resources.
According to the project’s developers, NEOs are “an invaluable source of radiation shielding materials, fuels and life support consumables that would significantly reduce the cost of human exploration plans in deep space”.
On the other hand, asteroids will also be important for building new ships and habitats. It is estimated that the resources extracted from it will be sufficient to supply one billion people.
According to its creators, the Sutter Ultra project will change our view of space and show that asteroids are not only an avoidable threat, but also a “stepping stone to the Solar System” It would allow the expansion of the human race.