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Cosmic Diary

The Golden Ticket

30 Jan 2010, 00:34 UTC
The Golden Ticket
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

We have discovered our first (and now second!) new Near-Earth Asteroid with WISE.
I found the golden ticket!
Our first “golden ticket” is now known as 2010 AB78, although we’ve nicknamed it Boingo after my parrot. It’s an asteroid that is roughly 1 kilometer in diameter, so it’s fairly large. Of course, unlike Charlie, finding the golden ticket wasn’t a matter of luck, but rather a search strategy that more closely resembled this:
An asteroid-finding factory!
Near-Earth Objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that get close to Earth’s orbit. That doesn’t mean they are going to hit the Earth, of course. It’s sort of like driving on a busy street; just because there are a lot of cars zipping by on either side of you, it doesn’t necessarily mean your car is going to hit one. They would have to be at the same place at the same time for that to happen, so even though the paths each car has travelled might get close, there is no collision.
WISE finds asteroids by using a sophisticated piece of software called the WISE Moving Object Processing System, or WMOPS (nested acronyms - we get bonus points for that!). We adapted ...

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