NASA has just released a statement in which it announces its plans to build a high-tech infrared telescope that could identify asteroids whose trajectory could imply collision with our planet. The new defense structure could take approximately ten years to build, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science announced.
The new system is called ‘Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission,’ and it will cost $500 million to $600 million to build, together with expressly calibrations and engineering logistics.
The telescope was first proposed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) located in Pasadena, California, which argued that such a system is necessary for meeting the requirements asked from the congress. These requirements state that NASA has to detect 90 percent of all potentially dangerous space rocks of a 140 meters minimum, in diameter, by the end of the year 2020.
Even though the infrared telescope will be eventually given a different name, Mark Sykes, CEO of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, states that the mission will remain the same. However, because the telescope’s construction will not be ready until about ten years from now, the space agency will, therefore, not meet the requirements by 2020.
Even so, the mission will probably not be abandoned, because researchers claim an infrared telescope is necessary. This, because of the past decades having shown that dark asteroids, which are almost invisible to light, are detected by infrared beams.
According to Jay Melosh, a planetary scientist at Purdue University, there are numerous dark asteroids out in space and that, allegedly, sees the need of an infrared system.
The telescope could be the reason NASA will demand an increase of their current $150 million annual budget for planetary defense systems only.
The majority of the money from the budget is spent on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) program, which is being designed by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory.