The consequences of an asteroid bursting near or hitting Earth could include shock waves that send seismic activity off the charts, knock over trees within an extensive radius, suspend particles in the air for months, and even wipe out civilizations.
Students will be at the controls, under the direction of engineers, to better identify and monitor asteroids that could cause devastation to Earth as the University of Colorado Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics embarks on the Sentinel Mission. LASP's role will be to conduct mission operations and data processing for the Sentinel Mission -- the first privately funded deep-space mission -- to spot near-Earth objects that could be in a dangerous trajectory with Earth.
LASP students and engineers currently operate four NASA spacecraft, including the AIM, Kepler, SORCE, and QuikSCAT missions, as well as 14 space science instruments. Over the past decade-and-a-half, LASP has been responsible for operating more than 30 spacecraft and instruments.
“Our 15-year record of continuous spacecraft mission operations is unique among universities,” said Bill Possel, director of LASP Mission Operations and Data Systems. “Over that time, we have provided excellent operations for our partners while at the same time training the next generation of space professionals.”
Work on the Sentinel Mission will begin early in 2013, with a launch date slated for 2016 or 2017. For more information visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/blog/2012/06/28/lasp-to-operate-private-mission-to-map-hazardous-asteroids/.