New NASA 'Scout' System Silently Keeping You Safe

"Scout" and "Sentry" systems monitor the cosmos for any asteroids that could threaten Earth
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2016 5:08 PM CDT
New NASA 'Scout' System Silently Keeping You Safe
A NASA rendering of an asteroid approaching Earth.   (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA is hard at work to protect the Earth from asteroid threats, NPR reports. The agency's new "Scout" detection system scans the skies above our planet for small, nearby objects that might enter Earth's orbit. In fact, a small one between 5 and 25 meters across will come relatively close to Earth Sunday night, though there's no danger of a strike. Once an asteroid is detected, Scout coordinates data from multiple telescopes across the world in order to ascertain if the object will enter Earth's atmosphere, and if it poses any sort of a threat. While more than 15,000 Near-Earth Objects have been recorded over the course of history, astronomers say many, many more pass by undetected.

This year alone, scientists have discovered more than 1,500 NEOs, the Christian Science Monitor reports. That number doesn't mean that the end of days is coming—it just means scientists are getting better at detecting and monitoring objects that come into our celestial neighborhood. While the new "Scout" system looks at smaller objects, NASA's older, heavy-duty "Sentry" system looks for big, far-away asteroids which might pose a threat to Earth. And if any are ever detected? NASA and the ESA are jointly working on a method to re-direct large asteroids. (More NASA stories.)

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