Powerpoint slide discussing ATLAS-an asteroid last minute warning systemI was looking through a recent presentation by Lindley Johnson, NASA’s NEO guy, when one of the slides caught my eye. It refers to the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS). The idea is pretty slick, a group of wide field telescopes located around the world scanning the entire night sky looking for close objects (days away from impact) for a warning. One problem as far as I can see…they wouldn’t have spotted the Chelyabinsk Meteor, nor any others coming at us from the Sun side of the street. For that, it will take Sentinel (though it won’t necessarily spot them at the last minute), but he covered at as well. Maybe a telescope at Earth/Sun L1 looking at Earth? Kind of like Al Gore’s Triana idea, just with a wider view.

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2 Responses to Meet ATLAS

  1. Hop David says:

    An orbital scope s point towards the inner solar system and not suffer light pollution from a blue sky. Think Planetary Resources’ Arkyds might do the job?

  2. Tom says:

    Hey Hop! Arkyds will help, but they’ll still have a ‘keep out zone’ near the sun that they can’t look near. The Hubble’s keep out zone, for instance, is 50 degrees according to Wikipedia. One good answer is B612′s Sentinel, which is inside Earth’s orbit, looking back at Earth’s orbit, though not always at Earth. Another good one for last-minute notice would be at Sun-Earth L1…hmmm.

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