New algorithm ensnares its first ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid

Submitted by Midori Angel Rollins on
Discovery images from the ATLAS survey, with 2022 SF289 visible in the red boxes. ATLAS/University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy/NASA

UW News and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory have distributed a release about the discovery of a new near-Earth asteroid — and what it means for the future.

An asteroid discovery algorithm — designed to uncover near-Earth asteroids for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s upcoming 10-year survey of the night sky — has identified its first “potentially hazardous” asteroid, a term for space rocks in Earth’s vicinity that scientists like to keep an eye on. The roughly 600-foot-long asteroid, designated 2022 SF289, was discovered during a test drive of the algorithm with the ATLAS survey in Hawaii. Finding 2022 SF289, which poses no risk to Earth for the foreseeable future, confirms that the next-generation algorithm, known as HelioLinc3D, can identify near-Earth asteroids with fewer and more dispersed observations than required by today’s methods. That is important because, though scientists know of more than 2,000 near-Earth asteroids, they estimate that another 3,000 await discovery!

Dr. Ari Heinze, a UW researcher and Rubin scientist, was principal developer of HelioLinc3D. Leader of the team behind HelioLinc3D was Dr. Mario Jurić, director of the UW’s DiRAC Institute, UW professor of astronomy and Rubin scientist.

Link to the full story here.

- James Urton