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Future Tech: Swarming the 300

17 Apr 2019, 16:48 UTC
Future Tech: Swarming the 300
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Each nanosatellite will carry a four-centimetre (1.5-inch) telescope. The probes will pass around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from their targets, and at this distance will be able to image features down to 100 kilometres (60 miles) across. Image credit: Adrian Mann
Asteroids are material left behind from the formation of the Solar System.They range in size from the 946-kilometre (587-mile) Ceres down to pebbles, and most of them are irregular objects collected in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is estimated that there are around 1.5 million asteroids larger than a kilometre in the main belt. Fortunately for our future exploration plans they don’t form a rocky cloud like in the movies, being on average two-million-kilometres apart. Despite their ubiquity asteroids’ small size means we have not been able to study many in great detail, and with nearly 1,500 out of around 10,000 known Earth crossing asteroids considered an impact risk for us, we really need to know more.
“Asteroids are very diverse and, to date, we’ve only seen a small number at close range. To understand them better, we need to study a large number in-situ. The only way to do this affordably is by using ...

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