Can Astronomers Use Radar to Find a Destructive Asteroid?

A synthetic aperture radar image of the lunar Tycho Crater, showing 5 m resolution detail. Credit: Raytheon Technologies.

How can humans protect Earth from “destructive asteroid and comet impacts?” According to the National Academies and their 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey, ground-based astronomical radar systems will have a “unique role” in planetary defense.

There is currently only one system in the world focused on these efforts, NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar, which is part of the Deep Space Network (DSN). However, a new instrument concept from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), called the Next-Generation RADAR (ngRADAR) system, will enhance these capabilities with the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and other current and future instruments. Will use the facilities.

“There are many applications for the future. shared NRAO Director Tony Beasley, from greatly advancing our knowledge of the solar system to informing future robotic and crewed spaceflight and identifying dangerous objects that are too close to Earth.

On Saturday, February 17, scientists will present recent results obtained with ground-based radar systems at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado

“The NRAO, with support from the National Science Foundation and oversight from Associated Universities, Inc., has a long history of using radar to further our understanding of the universe. Test to see if humans have a can successfully change the asteroid’s trajectory,” says Patrick Taylor, NRAO scientist and ngRADAR project director.

The GBT is the world’s largest fully operational radio telescope. Its maneuvering 100-meter dish enables it to observe 85 percent of the celestial sphere, allowing it to rapidly track objects in its field of view.

“With support from Raytheon Technologies, pilot tests of NGRADAR on the GBT – using a low-power transmitter with a lower output than a standard microwave oven,” Taylor added. The highest resolution images of the Moon Ever taken from the earth. Imagine what we could do with a more powerful transmitter.”

Among the scientists sharing their findings at AAAS are Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Marina Brozović of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages Goldstone and DSN. “The public may be surprised to learn that the technology we use in our current radar at Goldstone hasn’t changed much since World War II,” Brozovich added.

“For 99% of our observations, we transmit and receive from this one antenna. New radar transmitter designs, such as the ngRADAR on the GBT, have the potential to increase significantly. and waveform bandwidth, allowing for even higher resolution imaging. It will also create a scalable and more robust system by using telescope arrays to increase the collection area.”

“NRAO is an ideal organization to lead these efforts because of the tools we have available to acquire radar signals like the Very Long Baseline Array in our pilot ngRADAR project,” said Brian Kent, NRAO scientist. and explains the director of science communication, who coordinated the “Future facilities such as the Next Generation Very Large Array, as a receiver, will make a powerful combination for planetary science,” presentation at AAAS.

How does ground-based astronomical radar enhance our understanding of the universe? By allowing us to study our nearest solar system and everything in it in unprecedented detail. Radar can reveal the surfaces and ancient geology of planets and their moons, allowing us to trace their evolution.

It can also determine the location, size and speed of potentially dangerous Near Earth objects such as comets or asteroids. Advances in astronomical radar are opening new avenues, new investments, and joint industry interest and scientific community collaboration as a multidisciplinary project.

Provided by Greenbank Observatory

Reference: Can Astronomers Use Radar to Find a Destructive Asteroid? (2024, February 16) Retrieved February 17, 2024, from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-astronomers-radar-cataclysmic-asteroid.html

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