Threat To Eye On The Night Sky.
A world-renowned Australian astronomer, discoverer of 400 comets & asteroids, may be forced to abandon his work searching for objects on a potential collision course with Earth.
Rob McNaught has lost the NASA funding he relies on as the only astronomer in the southern hemisphere working on an Arizona-based survey to find and track near-Earth objects and possibly help prevent catastrophic collisions.
The Australian National University has stepped in to temporarily support Mr McNaught’s position, but said long-term funding needed to keep the work going beyond the end of this year is ”not going to come from the university”.
Hollywood knew how to end the Earth in Deep Impact.
Since 1987, he has discovered 70 comets, more than twice as many as any other astronomer.
According to Mr McNaught, the Siding Spring Survey – the only project observing near-Earth objects in the southern hemisphere – gets ”a chance to see objects that the northern hemisphere surveys can’t research”.
Rob McNaught’s telescope outside Coonabarabran, NSW
Since 2004, the survey has discovered 412 near-Earth objects, including 80 classified as a potential hazard because they have a diameter of 100 metres to 150 metres and an orbit that comes within 7.5 million kilometres of the Earth’s orbit.
A fellow astronomer and colleague at Siding Spring, Peter Poulos, describes his friend as ”the guardian of all of us, in many ways. He doesn’t wear a uniform or a cape, but in the end he’s the hero in the movie. He’s the scientist that will discover the bad thing heading our way.”
He said we ignored the risk of large or even ”extinction event” impacts at our own peril. A government spokesman said it would consider a funding request.Source: SMH.
* Watch the video featuring Rob Mc Naught below
- Vital eye for killer asteroids could shut imminently (newscientist.com)