Gigantic asteroids that can strike and destroy Earth in seconds are all around us. But this new cloud-based Astrodynamics platform called THOR could be our savior. Check this new defense strategy that can save humanity from extinction.
The threat of asteroids can never be taken lightly. We all know how a mere ten kilometer wide asteroid once destroyed the entire dinosaur species and put the planet under an ice age 66 million years ago. A similar event now could make humans go extinct. And that is why scientists are investing heavily in technology that can prevent an extinction-level threat from ever approaching the Earth. Recently, it was reported that China was planning to send rockets to space to test out a technology that will allow the country to deflect asteroids. But now, a new technology has come to light that claims to not only identify but track asteroids that are beyond the capabilities of the most powerful space telescopes out there. And what is this technology? It’s called THOR. Also read: NASA Photo: Stunning images of Lunar Eclipse captured from the International Space Station
THOR is an acronym for Tracklet-less Heliocentric Orbit Recovery, a new algorithm which has been proven to find new asteroids. According to a report by SciTechDaily, this algorithm has been running on the Asteroid Institute’s cloud-based astrodynamics platform for identifying and tracking asteroids. But how can this algorithm protect the Earth? Read on to find out.
THOR to protect the Earth from Earth-killer asteroids
The algorithm was first developed by Mario Juric, an associate professor of astronomy and director of the DiRAC (Data-intensive Research in Astrophysics and Cosmology) Institute at the University of Washington and Joachim Moeyens, a graduate student in the same University. To prove its caliber, it was used to identify asteroids in the solar system. After the algorithm returned with its results, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center confirmed the finding and established that the algorithm was indeed capable of detecting Earth-killer asteroids. Also read: What are asteroids and why do they come so frighteningly close to the Earth? NASA tells us
Highlighting the need for the algorithm, Juric told SciTechDaily, “The work of the Asteroid Institute is critical because astronomers are reaching the limits of what’s discoverable with current techniques and telescopes”.
Currently, THOR is running on a cloud-based Astrodynamics platform called Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) to look for asteroids that have stayed beyond the reach of humans.
“A comprehensive map of the solar system gives astronomers critical insights both for science and planetary defense…Tracklet-less algorithms such as THOR greatly expand the kinds of datasets astronomers can use in building such a map,” Matthew Holman, dynamicist and search algorithm expert at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian told SciTechDaily.