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Mission to an Interstellar Asteroid

21 Mar 2018, 17:05 UTC
Mission to an Interstellar Asteroid
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

On the matter of interstellar visitors, bear in mind that our friend ‘Oumuamua, the subject of yesterday’s post, was discovered at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, using the Pan-STARRS telescope. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System is located at Haleakala Observatory on Maui, where it has proven adept at finding new asteroids, comets and variable stars. Consider ‘Oumuamua a bonus, and according to a new paper from Greg Laughlin and Darryl Seligman (Yale University), a type of object we’ll be seeing again.
Pan-STARRS may find objects like this every few years, but we’ll get a bigger payoff in terms of interstellar wanderers with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), now under construction at Cerro Pachón (Chile). Laughlin and Seligman think that this instrument will up the discovery rate as high as several per year, allowing us to see ‘Oumuamua in context, and also, perhaps, setting up the possibility of an intercept mission with a kinetic impactor.
More on that in a moment. But first, it’s interesting to see theories about its place of origin springing up in the brief interval since ‘Oumuamua’s passage. One of the stars of the Carina/Columba association (165-275 light years from Earth) ...

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