Scientists wants to learn more about the interior of an asteroid. This is why, long wavelength radio signals were launched into space from a strong transmitter in a remote area of Alaska.
The asteroid is named as 2010 XC15. It is passing by Earth at a distance of two lunar distances. This is twice the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Results from the experiment conducted at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) research facility in Gakona may help to protect Earth from larger asteroids that could do significant harm.
It is possible to use optical telescopes or the planetary radar of the Deep Space Network. NASA’s network of sizable and highly sensitive radio antennas in California, Spain, and Australia are examples. These networks will quickly detect asteroids, determine their orbit, shape, and image their surface.
However, those radar-imaging programmes don’t offer details about an asteroid’s interior. They employ signals with short wavelengths. It provides high-quality external images but does not penetrate an object and bounce off the surface.
HAARP, uses three powerful generators. It began transmitting long-wavelength chirping signals at 2 a.m. Tuesday and continued to do so until the 12-hour experiment ended.
The experiment also includes the University of New Mexico Long Wavelength Array near Socorro, New Mexico, and the Owens Valley Radio Observatory Long Wavelength Array near Bishop, California.
The experiment on Tuesday also served as a practise run for probing an asteroid larger than 2010 XC15.
The asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004. It will come closest to Earth on April 13, 2029. It will pass within 20,000 miles of Earth and it is closer than the many geostationary satellites that orbit the planet.
Apophis is estimated by NASA to be about 1,100 feet across. It was initially thought to pose a threat to Earth in 2068. But its orbit has since been better projected by researchers and is no longer a threat to the planet for at least a century.
According toresearchers, understanding the composition of an asteroid’s interior can improve the chances of an effective defence. Knowing how much mass is in an asteroid could help scientists target devices designed to deflect an asteroid away from Earth.
HAARP is operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks under a contract with the Air Force. The university developed and owned HAARP but transferred the research instruments to UAF in August 2015.