Canada is all set up to launch its two satellites, namely NEOSSat and Sapphire, from India on Monday. Engineers believe that in case one of the satellites, i.e. NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), was launched sometime earlier, it might have helped to predict or identify the destructive meteor that recently exploded over Russia.
The CEO of Microsat Systems Canada, David Cooper, announced that NEOSSat has been programmed to keep a track of “Aten” asteroids which, every once and a while, are deemed to move across Earth’s path. Atens are those group of near-Earth asteroids that orbit the sun elliptically, and hence often might even cross the Earth’s orbital plane. The executives of Microsat truly believe that the space rock which recently burst over Russia, resulting in considerable injuries, was an “Aten” asteroid.
Cooper mentioned during an interview from his office in Mississauga, Ont., that “we’re pretty lucky that it just grazed off the Earth’s atmosphere and heated up and exploded, rather than having a trajectory which would have taken it right into the Earth.” He added that “If it had come down in the middle of New York City it would have made a lot more noise than it did.” Additionally, Cooper elucidated that “once we detect and track them, we can project their orbit and then forecast ahead — sometimes years or decades (in advance) — where and when they will cross Earth’s orbit, which will give us a lot more insight into the potential for these asteroids.”
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