Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Staying awake at night concerned that asteroids might be hurtling towards the Earth, obliterating life as we know it? Well, fear no more. Thanks to the smart folks at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy and MIT's Lincoln Lab, Pan-STARRS is looking out for us.

The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is the world's largest digital camera, and it's to be used to keep an eye out for asteroids heading towards Earth. This 1400 megapixel camera sits atop Mount Haleakala in Maui Island, Hawaii, and will scan the skies looking for rogue objects approaching Earth at a trajectory that's a little too close for comfort.

Finding moving objects isn't the only objective of this project: another focus is its ability to map very large areas of sky to great sensitivity thus producing the deepest and most complete survey of the Solar System so far.

Again, to all Tech Club denizens and others who have an interest in science, astronomy, or space exploration, here's another example of how your passion can translate into a career. Not only are people needed to think of and design these types of tests, but computer programmers are also needed to develop the software necessary to run the instruments to perform the scientists' tests.

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