Scientists have used a new tool to create more than 100 . to discover asteroids that had not been identified before.
The method uses a complex computer method called an algorithm to search for asteroids that could not be discovered in the past. They were not discoverable because existing telescopes and imaging tools could not recognize them.
Historically, the US space agency NASA has used powerful ground-based telescopes and are NEOWISE spacecraft to identify asteroids and other objects near Earth. NASA also uses follow systems to track the movements of asteroids.
Scientists attach great importance to identifying and tracking objects near Earth, as some of them could pose a threat to our planet. With this in mind, NASA launched a spacecraft last November that wants to demonstrate a possible defense method against asteroids that could threaten Earth.
The discovery of 104 new asteroids was recently announced by the American non-profit Asteroid Institute. The organization hopes the new asteroid search tool will lead to the discovery of many more asteroids in the coming years.
The Asteroid Institute is part of the B612 Foundation† The institute explains on its website that it wants to combine computer science, instrumentation and astronomy to find and track asteroids.
Ed Lu is the director of the B612 Foundation. He is also a former NASA astronaut. He praised the new tool in a statement announcing the organization’s latest finding. “Discovering and tracking asteroids is crucial to understand our solar system, enable space development and protect our planet from asteroids effects‘ said Lu.
The institute calls its discovery tool Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping, or ADAM. This system uses the algorithm to “match points of light in different aerial images that” consistently with asteroid orbits.”
The tool is trained to find asteroids based on existing data and to calculate their jobs well enough to be recognized by international astronomy organizations.
Lu said the ADAM tool and algorithm together make it possible for “any telescope with a” archive” to become an asteroid-searching telescope.
The Asteroid Institute worked together with the technology company Google about the project. Google says its cloud computing system supported the computing power needed for its asteroid discovery system.
“We have always dreamed that cloud computing would become a true scientific tool and the announcement of today’s discoveries and the future of asteroids shows that this dream is becoming a reality,” said Scott Penberty. He is the director of Applied AI at Google.
Researchers from the University of Washington also contributed to the project. Joachim Moeyens is one of those researchers. He reported that he had searched a 30-day image window during the discovery operation.
The images came from the NOIRLab Source Catalog. The catalog is a collection of nearly 68 billion observations made between 2012 and 2019 through telescopes at the Arizona-based National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
After making his first batch of asteroid discoveries based on the images, Moeyens sent his results to the Minor Planet Center† The NASA-supported center is an international agency responsible for officially registering observed near-Earth objects. The center was able to recognize and confirm Moeyens’ 104 asteroid discoveries.
Moeyens and other researchers say the latest identifications are just the beginning. They predict that their asteroid search program will lead to thousands of new discoveries in the future.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Asteroid Institute, the University of Washington, and Google.
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Words in this story
asteroid – n. a rocky object that orbits the sun like a planet
track – v. record the progress or development of something
crucial – adj. extremely important or necessary
influence – n. an act or event in which something touches another thing
consistently – adj. always behave the same way
calculate – v. discover an amount or number using math
archive – n. a collection of historical documents that provide information about the past, or a place where they are kept
catalog – n. a list of things combined in one source
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