Canada launches NEOSSat to keep an eye out for asteroids

More than a few asteroids have neared our planet this year, with some getting pretty close, relatively speaking. This has prompted a variety of theories on how to deal with them, such as laser beams that will evaporate threatening space rock. Less an asteroid sneak up on us, Canada has launched the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite, called NEOSSat for short, which is equipped with a camera to help us keep an eye out for asteroids.

The satellite, which is operated by the Canadian Space Agency, measures in at 0.9 x 0.65 x 0.35 meters, and can operate non-stop, unlike telescopes on the ground. As it orbits space about 500 miles above our blue marble, the satellite snaps pictures to the tune of hundreds every day. The images are then transferred to researchers located at the University of Calgary.

The satellite is equipped with a Maksutov telescope (5.9-inch, f/5.88 aperture), and is powered by solar panels. Stabilizers work via miniature reaction wheels, while magnetorquers slow things down when momentum gets to be too much. Stability is required, according to the official NEOSSat website, because the device's telescope is used as a framing camera, having to stay in the same spot at times for up to 100 seconds.

The telescope is built without moving parts, meaning that it wasn't at risk of damage when launched into space. It was launched via the PSLV-C20 launch vehicle from the Indian Space Research Organization. Although, the NEOSSat is boasted as te first space telecope dedicated solely to hunt out asteroids close to Earth.

[via CNET]