UA'S CATALINA SKY SURVEY HELPS EXPLAIN PUZZLING OBSERVATIONS

The ultimate fate of most near-Earth objects, or NEOs — asteroids and comets that may pose a hazard to Earth — has been thought to be a collision with the sun. However, a new study published in the journal Nature found that most asteroids are destroyed long before a collision can occur.

Data from the UA’s Catalina Sky Survey was pivotal to the findings that will be used to create a new model of the Near-Earth Object population to describe their orbit and size distributions. Such a model is critical for planning future asteroid surveys and spacecraft missions, as well as assessing the remaining threat from asteroid impacts.