NASA’s satellite monitoring system has been upgraded, after which the night sky will be scanned once every 24 hours to detect a potentially dangerous planet approaching Earth.
The Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) is important for detecting planets and debris that are likely to collide with the Earth and is operated by the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.
ATLAS began with two telescopes in Hawaii but has now expanded to include two more telescopes in the southern hemisphere, giving a full view of the sky.
The two new telescopes connected to the system are located in Chile and South Africa, and with them the two telescopes in Hawaii can capture images 100 times larger than the 14th moon in the night sky in a single exposure.
This will enable astronomers to detect the presence of potentially dangerous space objects near the Earth weeks in advance.
In a statement to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, the Near-Earth Object Observations Program Manager Kelly Fast said the key to planetary defense is to find the planets before they find us.