Back in April, China announced the creation of a system to protect the Earth from asteroids, and now Chinese scientists propose to include extraterrestrial elements in it. Wu Weiren, head of China’s lunar exploration program, said the new plan would place three sentinel satellites with kinetic weapons in orbit around the moon.
Two optical telescopes will be built at the moon’s south and north poles to scan outer space for potential threats that might elude the ground-based early warning network. This is especially true in the case of threats approaching from the sun.
According to the plan, when the system detects a potentially dangerous asteroid, it will send one or all of the guardian satellites to intercept it. According to scientists, such a system would react a week faster than any rocket launched from Earth.
“Such a system would have the ability to intercept incoming asteroids from all directions, and would be able to form a protective circle roughly twice the distance between the Moon and Earth – about 800,000 km in diameter.”, Chinese researchers noted.
And while nothing directly threatens Earth right now, according to astrophysicists, about 60% of asteroids large enough to cause serious damage to the planet are not recorded or tracked by humans. According to Wu and his team, asteroids coming from the direction of the Sun are the most dangerous because they are very difficult to track. Solar glare has made it nearly impossible for optical telescopes to detect such objects, and radar systems work best when tracking known targets.
The growing number of satellites in orbit, such as Starlink, further reduces the likelihood of detecting small celestial objects from a distance, according to Chinese scientists. According to Wu and his colleagues, these problems could be solved using telescopes operating in the lunar polar regions. Scientists have calculated that the viewing angles of lunar telescopes almost perfectly cover the entire dead spot on Earth.
The construction of lunar objects in the Earth protection system would cost a lot of money and resources, so China can invite other countries to cooperate within the framework of the International Lunar Research Station, a joint project between Beijing and Moscow.
But before work on the moon begins, China will first launch satellites into lunar orbit to test the latest surveillance, tracking and interception technologies.
However, the researchers note that lunar satellites could help protect China’s national security on Earth. So, with their help, China will carefully monitor other countries’ satellites and thereby, “pwill improve the ability to protect valuable space assetsThe researchers also added that the ultra-precise atomic clocks on these new satellites could improve the accuracy of the BeiDou satellite positioning system.