Chinese and Ukrainian astronomers collaborate to protect Earth from asteroids; read on to find out more – The Times of India

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A collaborative research team from China and Ukraine has made significant strides in tracking near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), improving our ability to assess potential risks. By conducting regular observations, the team has been able to pinpoint the locations of these asteroids and accurately map their orbits.

Understanding near-Earth asteroids

NEAs are asteroids whose orbits come close to Earth’s, posing a potential threat of collision.The necessity for immediate follow-up observations of newly identified NEAs is crucial for quickly determining their orbital elements. Accurate tracking of these rapidly moving objects requires short exposure times during astronomical measurements to prevent elongated streaks in images.

Innovative imaging technique

Researchers from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Mykolaiv Astronomical Observatory have developed an innovative technique to address this challenge. The rotating-drift-scan (RDS) charge-coupled device (CCD) technique allows asteroids to be imaged as point sources, even with long exposure times. This advancement is crucial for improving the precision of asteroid tracking.

Extensive data collection

The research leveraged a comprehensive dataset of over 11,000 positional measurements of nearly 500 NEAs. These measurements were captured using two 50-centimetre telescopes located in Xi’an, China, from 2019 to 2023, and in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2022. This extensive data collection has been instrumental in refining the tracking and mapping of NEA orbits.

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Implications for global monitoring

A new study published in the Astronomical Journal highlights the potential of this research to revolutionise asteroid detection. By using a network of small telescopes and employing the RDS CCD technique, global monitoring of NEAs can be significantly enhanced. This improvement in detection capabilities is a critical step in protecting Earth from potential asteroid impacts.
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