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Can This Asteroid Finding Software Save Humanity?

By: Kerry Ding

HelioLinc3D, a software that detects asteroids that come near Earth, can save humanity and it is currently in use in Chile. The software was built for telescopes in observatories. In 2018 it was programmed to be used in Chile. This technology has already detected an asteroid that may come near Earth in the future.

When new technology is created, it is often overrated. People sometimes think the technology will do a lot more than it does. This technology, however, can save the world. Sometimes, lines of code are going to save the world.

Today little space rocks known as asteroids are spotted mostly by using an algorithm to detect them. This system is less efficient than the new systems, especially a new system using HelioLinc3D. The old software is able to confirm if asteroids are near Earth if the algorithm manages to get four images of them within a single night. But this poses a serious problem. Sometimes, bad weather causes conventional systems to fail on some nights. Additionally, if an asteroid’s picture is taken multiple times, but isn’t on the same night, the algorithm might not recognize it as dangerous. This is pretty bad for our planetary defense. However, the new software, HelioLinc3D, only requires two pictures to confirm that an asteroid is coming near Earth. It is also better at spotting asteroids. Using this software scientists have already discovered a near-earth asteroid that the traditional telescopes were unable to see.

This type of asteroid can easily raze any city unlucky enough to be hit by it. The asteroid was named 2022 SF289 and has been classified as “potentially hazardous.” It will come up to 140,000 miles away from Earth, which is closer than the moon.

Despite the benefits of the HelioLinc3D, the new program isn't going to strengthen the pre-existing tech just anywhere, it was built specifically for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. With both the existing tech and the new program, many discoveries will undoubtedly be discovered in this observatory. “The observatory’s huge mirror, massive camera, and expansive eye will see pretty much everything in the night sky in unprecedented detail, from far-flung collapsing stars to sketchy-looking asteroids swimming in our galactic backwater.” said The New York Times.

The recent program has also benefitted the observatory in other ways. Without HelioLincSD, we couldn’t have discovered the many asteroids in Earth's neighborhood. Today, the asteroid-hunter telescopes have found 32,000 near-Earth asteroids. These asteroids can easily cause planetary damage. But not every asteroid is being detected. Many of the smaller asteroids that are harder to detect are going unnoticed. Only around 10,000 of the 25,000 estimated 460-foot and lower asteroids have been discovered. These asteroids can pack a serious punch too! They can easily wipe out cities or even small countries.

The hope for HelioLinc3D is to explore the unexplored. The system is currently being put to the test as they compare the results of the HelioLinc3D and the conventional telescopes operated by scientists. The future seems very bright for HelioLinc3D. Let's hope that the program can save humanity if need be.


potentially hazardous asteroids and comets

Killer Asteroid-Spotting Software Could Help Save the World - The New York Times

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