Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIImash) will start developing next stage of the new system for early warning for Near Earth Objects with trajectories potentially colliding with Earth.
On Friday, June 3, 2016, ”Izviestia” announced that Russian company managed by state corporation Roscosmos, TsNIImash, will continue development of ASPOS early warning system to help in protecting Earth from asteroids. News is confirmation of previous gossips from January 2016 and April 2016 that Russia would like to develop such system with foreign partners in future. This time it seems that plans are more serious because according to TASS news agency they were confirmed by spokesperson of TsNIImash Olga Zharova:
“It is necessary to develop hardware and software systems for the collection, processing and analysis of information about potentially dangerous objects of natural origin”
System would be part of Automated Space Danger Warning System (ASPOS) remaining in development since 2006. ASPOS was planned to enter service in years 2013-2014 with number of ground observation centers placed not only in Russia but also worldwide. Finally first bid for ASPOS was announced on 2013 with potential budget of $1.2 million. In the end of 2014 four observatories were operating under ASPOS. Following observatories using optical telescopes were: in Byurakan, Armenia (number of telescopes x focal length: 2 x 19 cm, 1 x 25 cm, 1 x 40 cm), Kislovodsk, Russia, North Caucasus region (EOP-1: 2 x 19 cm, 1 x 25 cm, 1 x 40 cm and standalone 50 cm telescope), Ussuriysk in Primorsky Krai in Russia, (1 x 65 cm) and in Abrau-Dyurso, Krasnodar Krai, Russia (25 cm telescope). For the present moment system is operating and in spite of NEO observation is also utilized during tracking Russian spacecrafts and performing observation of close space. Still it is planned to extend its possibilities and combine ground observation centers established in the first phase of the project with satellites developed further in second phase. Third phase would be covering technologies necessary for preventing of consequences of collision with asteroid. According to Olga Zharov, ASPOS will not be separated system, but it should be considered as part of future worldwide space early warning program. Main objective for TsNIImash will be not creating technology for changing trajectory of the asteroids or destroying them with any kind of impact weapon, but developing technologies, ground observation centers and observation spacecrafts for spotting asteroids in advance. According to “Izviestia” ASPOS entered to Federal Space Program which covers years until 2025 with predicts for ASPOS budget at approximately $61.25 million. ASPOS in fact is still on very early stage of development and with limited number of facilities. Roscosmos is trying, even in face of time of shrinking budget, keep program alive, what shows that is important part of their Federal Space Plan 2016-2025. It is possible that first spacecrafts operating under ASPOS will be launched around 2025. But if Roscosmos would like to start cooperation with other space agencies, system should be something more than optical telescopes installed in astronomical observatories. It should be ready to use network between research centers around the Earth with easy access to number of ground observatories and satellites. It is rather less possible that ESA or any other space agencies would like to participate in ASPOS if this system still will be at same level of development and will not change its growth rate.
On picture above: Asteroid 2003 SD220 during flyby of Earth on December 24, 2015 spotted by Goldstone Solar System Radar.