Pan-STARRS telescope keeps an eye out for stray asteroidsUPDATED 5:35 PM HST Jul 07, 2013Video Transcript
Killer asteroids and stray comets, it's not just the imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters. KITV 4's Paul Drewes explains how Hawaii astronomers are reaching an out-of-this world milestone. rotating shot of asteroid - from asteroid bin They're out there... Thousands of them. 4:06 "we find them every night" Asteroids and comets on orbits close to earth. Or even on a collision course with our planet ranging in size from a few feet to miles across. quick film clip It's not just the stuff of science fiction -- or Hollywood blockbuster movies... Huge asteroids have hit before. A strike now would have deadly consequences. 3:11 "the extreme event is the one that wiped out the dinosaurs" 5:06 "one landing in the atlantic could cause a tsunami and there is no tsunami warning system there" use wx graphic animation from haleakala clip in bin But keeping an eye on the night skie s for these near earth objects is a telescope atop Haleakala called Pan-starrs. While most telescopes can only see a sliver of the nightsky, Panstarrs can see an area 8 times as big as a full moon -- thanks to some amazing astronomical technology. 2:36 "cameras with over a BILLION pixels each, the largest astronomical cameras in the world" The first Pan-starrs telescope now finds about half of all the near-earth objects in the sky, and recently found number 10,000. In three weeks, a second Pan-starrs telescope will join in the out of this world search. will@2:50 "we will absolutely be the best asteroid discovery system in the world" Next year NASA will have both scopes studying these hazards full- time, and scientists estimate it will only take another 3-4 years to map all of the larger near-earth objects. But Pan-starrs is not just looking out for killer asteroids, it is also looking for just the right one. ken@:15-:30 "The president has made it an initiative to go after an asteroid for research purposes to lasso it is the term" Scientists could then study it in orbit or on the moon, to reveal the composition and origin of these mysterious cosmic travelers. Paul Drewes KITV 4 news. Scientists say near-earth objects greater than 100 feet in size could cause devastation if they hit populated areas. Estimates are there are more than a million of those asteroids and comets, but only one percent of them have been detected.