An asteroid is passing Earth today, so scientists are shooting it with radio waves

An asteroid is passing Earth today, so scientists are shooting it with radio waves

An asteroid is passing Earth today, so scientists are shooting it with radio waves

The HAARP facility's antenna array includes 180 antennas spread over 33 acres.

The HAARP The facility’s antenna array includes 180 antennas spread over 33 acres.
Photo: HARP

A group of researchers tries reflect radio signals from a 150-meter-wide asteroid during its close flyby of Soil on Tuesday.

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is pointing its antennas at asteroid 2010 XC15, a space rock categorized as a near-Earth potentially dangerous asteroid. The effort is a test run to prepare for a larger object, known as Apophis, which will have a close encounter with our planet in 2029.

“What’s new and what we’re trying to do is probe the insides of asteroids with long-wavelength radars and ground-based radio telescopes,” said Mark Haynes, the project’s principal investigator and radar systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in South America. California, in a statement. “Longer wavelengths can penetrate an object’s interior much better than the radio wavelengths used for communication.”

HAARP is a research facility in Gakona, Alaska (one that the subject of numerous conspiracy theories). It consists of 180 high-frequency antennas, each 22 meters high and spread over 33 hectares. The facility transmits radio beams to the ionosphere, the ionized part of the atmosphere that is convenient about 50 to 400 miles (80 to 600 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. HAARP sends radio signals to the ionosphere and waits for them to return, including to measure the disturbances caused by the sun.

The facility launched a scientific campaign in October with 13 experiments, including one that reflected signals from the moon. At that time, HAARP researchers were considers sending a radio signal to an asteroid to probe the rocky body’s interior.

During today’s experiment, te HAARP antennas in Alaska will send the radio signals to the asteroid, and then scientists will to check when the reflected signals arrive Bee antenna arrays at the University of New Mexico Long Wavelength Array and that of California Owens Valley Radio Observatory Long Wavelength Array.

HAARP emits a continuous beeping signal at slightly above and below 9.6 megahertz; the chirp is repeated at two-second intervals. At its closest approach on Dec. 27, the asteroid will be twice as far from Earth as the moon.

Tuesday’s experiment is in preparation for an upcoming encounter with an asteroid in 2029. That potentially dangerous asteroid, formally known as 99942 Apophis, is about 1,210 feet (370 meters) wideand it will come in 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) from Earth on April 13, 2029. The near-Earth object was thought to pose a minor risk to Earth in 2068, but NASA ruled that out.

Still, HAARP wants to examine the asteroid to prepare for possible risks in the future space rocks. “The more time there is for a potential impact, the more options there are for trying to avert it,” Haynes said.

In September, NASA’s DART spacecraft smput in a small one asteroid and successfully changed his job. Such a strategy could be one way to distract a menacing space rock Soil.

Today test shows the potential of using long wavelength radio signals for probing the interior of asteroids. “If we can get the ground-based systems up and running, that gives us a lot of opportunities to try and detect these objects from the inside,” Haynes said.

More: A powerful recoil effect magnifies NASA’s asteroid deflection experiment

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