Cool Site of the Week: Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking

Maximum PC Staff

So, how about that aircraft carrier-sized asteroid that buzzed the earth earlier this week--crazy right? Zipping through the cosmos at approximately 30,000 miles per hour and measuring roughly 1,000 feet long, Asteroid 2005 YU55 definitely could have ruined a lot of people’s days if it’d passed 202,000 miles closer--a pittance of a distance by astronomical standards--to us than it did. Are there other space bound rocks out there hellbent on our planet’s destruction? You betcha. Do we know when or how likely it is for them to strike? Nope, but the vigilant space geeks over at Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) do, and their online presence is our Cool Site of the Week.

While their site might look like it was thrown together on GeoCities back in the mid nineties, don’t let the lack of flair fool you--this is one serious site broadcasting the results of some pretty serious practical science. A Venture of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Working in co-operation with the U.S. Air Force, NEAT has been watching the night skies for Near Earth Objects since 1995, studying everything fit to hit, miss, or menace our world. While NEAT believes that there could be upwards of 1,000 to 2,000 NEOs out there, they’ve only discovered 100 of them so far, making their research, in our opinion, pretty important.

Visitors to the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking website have access to a valuable list of F.A.Q.s, a glossary of terms, a wide variety of NEO images and a running tally of the objects NEAT has discovered over the years to keep you awake and worried at night. It’s a fascinating website full of facts that you’ll likely wish you’d never heard about, but’ll feel compelled to study nonetheless.

Be sure to check back every Friday for another edition of Maximum PC's Cool Site of the Week.

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