Russian space Observatory has found thousands of unidentified objects in the vicinity of the Earth

Russian space Observatory has found thousands of unidentified objects in the vicinity of the Earth

Astronomers from the University. M. V. Lomonosov with the help of a network of robotic telescopes MASTER SHOCK (Mobile Astronomical System of Telescopes-Robots-Wide angle Optical Chamber) was discovered near the Earth a few thousands of previously unknown objects of natural and artificial origin.

Unfortunately, in most cases, their specific nature remained unknown. The corresponding article is published in Astronomy Reports, with its Preprint available on the website of Cornell University.

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The researchers analyzed images taken by the wide angle camera the Space Observatory of Moscow state University “Lomonosov”. With their help, managed to register 22 181 candidate in moving near-earth objects. 10 711 of them, after reviewing the existing databases on existing and “dead” artificial satellites were either satellites or pieces of space debris that is already included in existing catalogues.

However, the remaining 7 876 not been reliably compared with previously known objects. 3 594 identified as known objects by their coordinates, but show differences from cataloged the speeds and directions of movement. Maybe it’s space junk, details of previously known “dead” satellites.

Unfortunately, uniquely identify the nature of these unidentified objects is almost impossible. The fact that the communication space Observatory “Lomonosov” with the Land had a moderate capacity, and on-Board computer of the Observatory — a limited storage capacity.

Therefore, only about a hundredth part of the images were transferred to the researchers, the rest were taken into account only the on-Board software automatic Observatory, send the pictures to Earth. After that the pictures themselves were erased from memory. As the authors note, if the communication system had more bandwidth and onboard storage systems for increased capacity, the researchers were able to establish the nature of detected recataloguing objects.

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SHOCK is a pair of cameras onboard “Lomonosov”, where the field of view of each of them is 1000 square degrees. When comparing images from the two cameras can be easily, automatically, to distinguish close and fast-changing objects from remote celestial bodies. If the data frames from different cameras quickly change — then it or a similar object, or he quickly changes the luminosity.

SHOCK frames are used to monitor the surroundings of gamma-ray flares, and to search for optical transients objects rapidly changing in the optical range — from supernova and new stars to asteroids and space debris. Installing the SHOCK is the first experiment with the cameras ultra-wide field of view in Earth orbit. Development of methods of registration of dangerous asteroids and space debris from space — one of the most promising and important task, because so far a full system of tracking small celestial bodies in the vicinity of the Earth does not exist.