The man helping protect Earth
June 28, 2020 6:28 AM   Subscribe

The Spaceguard Centre, near Knighton, in Powys, Wales, is a working observatory which tracks "near-Earth objects" - comets and asteroids which could hit Earth.

Its director, Jay Tate, established the centre in 1997 after he became concerned at a lack of co-ordination in the UK and internationally to counter the threat.

After years of trying to push the issue up the agenda in military circles and in Whitehall, Mr Tate said he was told to "go away and shut up". He did not do as he was told.
posted by Cardinal Fang (9 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Weirdly apropos, and a nice song... Thomas Dolby (featuring Dr. Fiorella Terenzi) -- N.E.O.
posted by hippybear at 6:45 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

comets and asteroids which could hit Earth.

Yes, please.
posted by terrapin at 7:14 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]

Its director, Jay Tate, established the centre in 1997 after he became concerned at a lack of co-ordination in the UK and internationally to counter the threat.

JPL's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies lists lots of international efforts including them. I get the cute "guy in Wales" angle but I don't see any mentions of them being taken that seriously outside the UK. Their About page says only:

The Spaceguard Centre is the National Near Earth Objects Information Centre (NNEOIC). With Jonathan R. Tate as its Director, it is the only organisation in the UK dedicated to addressing the hazard of Near Earth Objects.

Certainly an asteroid slamming into the Earth is an issue that each country needs to address on its own....

Edit: That came out harsher than I intended it to. Good luck to Jay Tate and I wish I'd known about this place when I lived in the UK!
posted by vacapinta at 7:55 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

I'm very proud to be contributing to this mission. Here's to planetary defense!
posted by newdaddy at 8:33 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]

I'm open to suggestions for planetary offence. Mercury's been looking at us funny.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:58 AM on June 28

Neat! I’ve followed some of the efforts along these lines in the US, but I wasn’t aware of the UK centre. Unfortunately this isn’t a mission which seems to be coordinated internationally (or indeed get much government attention at all).

One US-based survey effort, at JPL, is the NEOcam mission which aims to launch a satellite to “carry out a four year baseline survey to find 2/3 of the near-Earth objects larger than 140 m”. AFAICT it’s still in the proposal stage.

The B612 Foundation is a non-profit that was working on the Sentinel mission, which would have been a more ambitious effort aiming at 90% coverage. Unfortunately they seem to have run into funding difficulties and the mission was canceled, so the foundation seems to mostly be focused on advocacy at this stage.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 11:12 AM on June 28

I'm banking on it coming before / my end of year exams
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:29 PM on June 28

NEOcam sounds like a good complement to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. I was a bit surprised a space mission would be able to contribute much even using wavelengths not viable from the ground; maybe it's the lack of sky glow that allows much larger pixels to be used. And I guess that being at L1 it'll be able to spot asteroids with an aphelion near 1 AU that are hard to spot from Earth.
posted by mscibing at 8:54 PM on June 28

I don't know what I was thinking with that L1 comment. It will be able to point nearish the sun without pointing near the horizon around twilight so that's a win.
posted by mscibing at 4:30 AM on June 29

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