Sentinel’s Mission to Find 500,000 Near-Earth Asteroids

The privately funded space telescope will hunt for objects on a collision course with Earth

15 min read
Sentinel’s Mission to Find 500,000 Near-Earth Asteroids
Unearthly Interlopers: An automobile dashboard camera captures the entry of a 19-meter-wide asteroid over the city of Chelyabinsk, in Russia.
Photo: AP Photo

Humankind lives in a cosmic shooting gallery. For evidence of that, we need look no further than the events of 15 February 2013. On that day, a medium-size asteroid was set to pass some 28,000 kilometers from Earth, unusually close and well within the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. Dubbed 2012 DA14, the rock was first spotted the previous year. Since then, astronomers had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to take a closer look and measure such vitals as size, shape, and composition.

But just as they were readying their telescopes, another asteroid took them completely by surprise. In the early morning hours of the 15th, a previously unknown piece of space flotsam entered Earth’s atmosphere and streaked across the sky, breaking up over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Briefly exceeding the sun in brightness, the rock exploded with the equivalent of 500 kilotons of TNT. The shock waves damaged roofs and walls, blew out thousands of windows, and injured more than 1,500 people, primarily from shattered glass.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The EV Transition Explained: Can the Grid Cope?

Palo Alto offers a glimpse at the challenges municipalities and utilities face

8 min read
A man plugging a charger into an outlet

Enel’s JuiceBox 240-volt Level 2 charger for electric vehicles.

Enel X Way USA

There have been vigorous debates pro and con in the United States and elsewhere over whether electric grids can support EVs at scale. The answer is a nuanced “perhaps.” It depends on several factors, including the speed of grid-component modernization, the volume of EV sales, where they occur and when, what kinds of EV charging are being done and when, regulator and political decisions, and critically, economics.

The city of Palo Alto, Calif. is a microcosm of many of the issues involved. Palo Alto boasts the highest adoption rate of EVs in the United States: In 2020, one in six of the town’s 25,000 households owned an EV. Of the 52,000 registered vehicles in the city, 4,500 are EVs, and on workdays, commuters drive another 3,000 to 5,000 EVs to enter the city. Residents can access about 1,000 charging ports spread over 277 public charging stations, with another 3,500 or so charging ports located at residences.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

The James Webb Space Telescope was a Career-Defining Project for Janet Barth

NASA’s first female engineering chief was there from conception to first light

5 min read
portrait of older woman in light blue jacket against dark gray background Info for editor if needed:
Sue Brown

Janet Barth spent most of her career at the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.—which put her in the middle of some of NASA’s most exciting projects of the past 40 years.

She joined the center as a co-op student and retired in 2014 as chief of its electrical engineering division. She had a hand in Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions, launching the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, and developing the James Webb Space Telescope.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

FAST Labs’ Cutting-Edge R&D Gets Ideas to the Field Faster

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs engineers turn breakthrough innovations into real-life impact

1 min read

FAST Labs is an R&D organization where research teams can invent and see their work come to life.

BAE Systems

This is a sponsored article brought to you by BAE Systems.

No one sets out to put together half a puzzle. Similarly, researchers and engineers in the defense industry want to see the whole picture – seeing their innovations make it into the hands of warfighters and commercial customers.

That desire is fueling growth at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development (R&D) organization.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}