3 U of R scientists develop infrared sensors for asteroid-hunting telescope | WHEC.com

3 U of R scientists develop infrared sensors for asteroid-hunting telescope

NEO Surveyor is a new mission proposal designed to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are near the Earth. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NEO Surveyor is a new mission proposal designed to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are near the Earth.

WHECTV
Updated: June 16, 2021 09:59 AM
Created: June 16, 2021 09:30 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — NASA approved an asteroid-hunting telescope that uses infrared sensors developed by three University of Rochester scientists.

The Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope (NEO Surveyor) is designed to help advance NASA’s planetary defense efforts. The agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says "the instrument will help us discover & study many possibly hazardous objects within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit."

The university says Judith Pipher, William Forrest, and Craig McMurty developed "the infrared sensors that are expected to be deployed as part of this mission, which uses a space-based telescope to search for hazardous asteroids and comets" within Earth's vicinity."

Pipher's primary research is in the area of infrared astronomy and infrared detector array development, according to the U of R. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2007 for her work in infrared detector array development for astronomy. Pipher and Forrest developed ultra-sensitive InSb arrays for the Spitzer Space Telescope infrared array camera, launched in August 2003. McCurty joined the U of R's Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2000 as a senior research engineer.

The agency has been on a mission to discover 90% of NEOs larger than 459 feet in size and has reportedly found around 40% of near-Earth asteroids within that range. In 2010, NASA completed its goal to discover 90% of all NEOs larger than 3,280 feet in size.

The mission now moves into Preliminary Design (known as Key Decision Point-B). The telescope's launch is set for the first half of 2026.


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