Connect to share and comment

India launches asteroid-spotting satellite into space

India launched a rocket that can spot asteroids coming towards us.

Asteroid 2012 da14 nasa streakEnlarge
This image shows asteroid 2012 DA14 and the Eta Carinae Nebula, with the white box highlighting the asteroid's path. The image was taken using a 3" refractor equipped with a color CCD camera. The telescope is located at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia and is maintained and owned by iTelescope.net. (NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery/Courtesy)

India launched a rocket today carrying a satellite that will scan for asteroids. The satellite was designed by the Canadian Space Agency. It will circle the globe every 100 minutes to search for asteroids that are at risk of approaching Earth, Agence France Presse reported.

The satellite is called the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat). It cannot track small space rocks but it can find asteroids that are larger and at least 31 million miles from earth, Space.com reported.  

"NEOSSat will probably reduce the impact hazard from unknown large NEO’s [near-Earth objects] by a few percent over its lifetime, but is not designed to discover small asteroids near the Earth that may be on collision courses," NEOSSat co-principal investigator Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary wrote in a statement to Space.com.

More from GlobalPost: Asteroid 2011 AG5 could collide with Earth in 2040

It couldn't come at a better time. Earlier this month, a meteorite explosion over Russia  injured 1,200. The explosion vindicated scientists who for years argued that we should be developing better anti-asteroid technology. As the New York Times reported, a group of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are putting millions of dollars into anti-asteroid technology research, a cause that was once ridiculed. 

Watch a video of the satellite launch below: 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130225/india-launches-asteroid-spotting-satellite-space