October 24, 2021

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Astronomers hunting asteroids with radar surpass 1,000th space rock detection

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The most powerful tool for scientists studying asteroids in the neighborhood around Earth is planetary radar, a technique astronomers have just used on their 1,001st asteroid to date.

Planetary radar consists of shooting a beam of radio light to a solar system object, then catching the photons that echo back to Earth. The technique can give scientists vital information about both the object itself — its size and shape, details on the surface — and about its movement through space. Scientists can use planetary radar to finetune the plan for an asteroid-sampling mission, for example, or to determine just how close a near-Earth asteroid will come to colliding with our planet.

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