Monday, May 6, 2013

Bon Voyage NEOSSat!

by MeganN, This post originally appeared at The Future Science Leaders Blog.

This posted has also been posted to my personal blog
Introducing NEOSSat, a proud Canadian satellite. Photo Credit: Canadian Space Agency
February 25th 2013, the Canadian Space Agency proudly lauched NEOSSat- the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite.  If that isn’t cool enough, NEOSSat also holds the title of being the first space telescope designed to detect and track asteroids as well as satellites! Canada launched NEOSSat as part of their dedication towards keeping the outer space a safe place for everyone.  Kudos to Canada, eh!

simulation of the launch has been produced courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency!
NEOSSat about to undergo vibration testing in Ottawa! Photo Credit: Canadian Space Agency
How much work can you get done in a mere 100 minutes? Well, NEOSSat circles the entire globe in that time!  It isn’t even close to being comparable! This satellites goal is to hopefully discover asteroids within Earth’s orbit that measure 1km across (or larger) that could possibly pose a threat to Earth in the future.  It will focus on the day side of the sky because this side is not visible from ground based observatories.
Another function of NEOSSat will be to monitor orbiting space debris which includes things likes used rocket stages, old satellites, and anything else that may interfere with new spacecraft. The more and more we progress in the field of astronomy and are able to venture out into space and experiment, means more waste will be accumulating in space.  This accumulation poses a risk for collisions with future launches.  Unfortunately, there have already been a few close calls when is comes to these sort of collisions.  Currently, there are no rules mandating the proper behavior when it comes to managing space debris but the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) has published guidelines.
Photo Credit: Canadian Space Agency
NEOSSat is an amazing piece of technology and amazingly is is only about the size of a suitcase!  Orbiting about 800 kilometers above the Earth, it is able to operate 24/7 and generate hundreds of pictures that will be analyzed by the NEOSSat team at the University of Calgary.  By taking all of the photos and learning more about the asteroids near Earth, NEOSSat will be able to provide vital information for future space missions.
One of the coolest things about NEOSSat is that due to it’s location in space, it will be able to give us a lot of new information that ground based equipment could not. Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary said ““Its [NEOSSat's] most exciting result, however, will probably be discovering new targets for exploration by both manned and unmanned space missions.”
NEOSSat could really change the way space exploration is planned and I’m so proud of Canada for being the ones to take this big step! I feel kind of sentimental towards this hunk of metal, kind of like how I felt watching wall-e! My fingers are crossed in hopes that all things continue to go well!
Sincerely, Megan
About this Contributor: MeganN is an 18 year old health nut from Vancouver, BC. She loves running, volunteering, leadership, and of course, science! She hopes to one day go into a career in medicine.

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