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A New Killer Asteroid-Spotting Software

By: Nicholas Wang

HelioLinc3D, a software developed for the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile spotted a large space rock currently headed for Earth!

A computing algorithm may be humanity’s savior when it comes to asteroids crashing into Earth. Scientists rely on algorithms in computers to spot suspicious, large, and fast-moving space rocks that might threaten life on Earth. Algorithms also help scientists automate their work, be more precise, and can function 24/7.

The life-threatening asteroid discovered recently by the Vera Rubin Observatory was named 2022 SF289 and was classified as “potentially hazardous” due to its size and how it’s heading towards Earth. This asteroid isn’t a main concern for humans now, but will likely become a problem in the distant future. Although the asteroid’s closest approach is within 140k miles of the Earth’s orbit (half the distance to the moon), there is no confirmed threats for the next century or even millennials into the future.

HelioLinc3D, the software that discovered this asteroid, was designed for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. This observatory has a huge mirror, massive camera, and an expansive eye that will see almost everything in the night sky in detail–including sketchy asteroids that could potentially end humanity.

The Rubin telescope is designed to observe the whole sky each night in order to document as many celestial objects as possible. Without the new HelioLinc3D, it would be very difficult to reveal all the asteroids. HelioLinc3D can detect more asteroids that would have been difficult to find previously.

“The discovery of 2022 SF289 is the proof,” Ari Heinze, the principal developer of HelioLinc3D and a researcher at the University of Washington, said. She refers to the discover of 2022 SF289 as proving the existence of many space rocks in our solar system.

The killer asteroid found was at least 460 feet long and could wipe out entire cities or even small countries! If something like that impacts the Earth, they could kill many people, animals, and plants. Though many other space rocks have not been discovered we have successfully located 10,500 of them, with an estimate of 25,000 in total! Some of these may be on the path of Earth as well.


This article was based on Killer Asteroid-Spotting Software Could Help Save the World - The New York Times

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