Bug-eyed asteroid hunter: ESA's Flyeye telescope
ESA to develop a bug-eyed telescope called Flyeye that will detect hazardous asteroids and near-earth objects.
Each day we hear about gigantic asteroids or other near-earth objects rushing towards the Earth. Detecting celestial objects which can be hazardous to Earth can be tough due to the vastness of space. To solve this problem and prepare for the early spotting of asteroids, European Space Agency will be developing the automated Flyeye telescope.
This will be the first time in history that an instrument will scan the sky thoroughly and will automatically detect dangerous near-earth objects.
About Flyeye telescope
ESA reports the telescope will automatically detect the celestial object and then it will be examined by scientists to be sure they are real detections. Once the data is collected, it will then be sent to the Minor Planet Center for further observation for a better understanding of the near-Earth object's orbit and the likelihood of an impact.
Note that the Flyeye telescope can only detect celestial objects about 40m or larger, and 3 weeks before its potential impact
How Flyeye telescope work?
Just like the compound eye of a fly, the new European telescope will divide each image into 16 smaller sub-images, significantly expanding the field of view for improved observation capabilities. As per ESA, these fly-eyed survey telescopes have the performance of a 1 m-diameter telescope with a field of view that spans 6.7° x 6.7°, or around 45 square degrees.
“The extremely wide field of the new telescopes will allow us to cover a large area of the sky in just one night. This will reduce the chance that we miss any interesting object," says Detlef Koschny, senior asteroid expert at ESA.
Location and placement of the Flyeye Telescope
The first Flyeye Telescope will be placed at the top of the 1865-metre Monte Mufara mountain in Sicily, Italy. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) will be developing the complete infrastructure on the site. This is because the access road and essential power, water, and data links all lie with the agency. In the meantime, ESA will be in charge of transporting the telescope and preparing the facility, which includes the telescope dome and accompanying components.