Asteroid detection for the entire night sky is now operational

An expansion to the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) system allows it to scan the entire night sky every day.

Published Sat, Feb 5 2022 5:23 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Mar 3 2022 7:20 AM CST

The Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) system can now survey the entire night sky.

Asteroid detection for the entire night sky is now operational 01 |

The ATLAS system is funded by NASA and run by the University of Hawai'i and initially comprised two telescopes that became fully operational in 2017. The telescopes were based in two different locations in Hawai'i, Haleakala, and Maunaloa, and were able to scan the night sky for asteroids every 24 hours. However, they are limited to only observing the night sky visible from the northern hemisphere.

Now, NASA funding has resulted in the completion of two more telescopes, both located in the southern hemisphere. The first was built in South Africa by the South African Astronomical Observatory. The second was built in Chile, supported by a collaboration between the Millennium Institute for Astrophysics and the private company Obstech.

On January 22nd, 2022, the telescope from the South African observatory identified its first Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA), dubbed 2022 BK. The asteroid is 100 meters across and currently poses no threat to Earth. The ATLAS system will continue to work with other systems such as Pan-STARRS and the Catalina Sky Survey to ensure we know as much about potential asteroid threats as possible.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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