Artist’s concept of the NEOSSat spacecraft in orbit.
Credit: University of Calgary

Canadian asteroid-hunting satellite to launch Monday

Posted: February 23, 2013

A small satellite built in Canada is stowed for liftoff from India on Monday on a mission to spot asteroids, especially the kind posing a hazard to Earth.

The Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite, or NEOSSat, is the first spacecraft designed for asteroid detection, and its launch will come barely one week after a meteor exploded over Russia.

The Russian meteor, which blasted out windows and injured more than 1,000 people, occurred the same day a larger 150-foot-wide asteroid narrowly missed Earth. Scientists determined the two events were not related.

The launch of NEOSSat was supposed to be in 2010, but a series of delays pushed back the mission until 2013. Now the launch is occurring at a time when asteroids have reached the pinnacle of public consciousness.

“It just happened that way. It’s just the effect of coincidence,” said Alan Hildebrand, a professor at the University of Calgary and lead scientist for NEOSSat’s asteroid search mission.

Read more: Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Canadian asteroid-hunting satellite to launch Monday.

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