In response to concerns over the growing number of asteroids that fly near Earth, Canada has deployed its Near-Earth Object Surveillance satellite with the main task of scouring the galaxy for space junk and strayed asteroids.
The focus of NEOSsat's asteroid mission is a group called Aten which have orbits that intersect with Earth's. It can't be found using ground-based telescopes because they become invisible to the viewer due to light scattered in the atmosphere.
Most of these asteroids have a semi-major axis of less than one astronomical unit which means that most of them orbit between Earth and the Sun.
NEOSSat will also take images of these asteroids and send them to the University of Calgary for analysis.
On Tuesday, India launched its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as part of the South Asian nation's ambitious space programme that includes a mission to Mars in the later part of 2013. The launch was held at Sriharikota in Andra Pradesh.
"The launch of this PSLV adds yet another golden milestone in the success story of Indian space history. The credit for this achievement, undoubtedly, goes to our scientific community, particularly those working with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation)," The Hindu Business Line quoted Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari.
The PSLV has two BRITE-class microsatellites designed in Canada and funded by Austria. The microsatellite weighs 7 kilogrammes packed in a 20-cm cube design with the task of measuring photometrically low-level oscillations and temperature variations in stars brighter than visual magnitude. Its measurement is more accurate compared to those made by terrestrial telescopes.
Included in the Indian launch is Sapphire, a Canadian space junk observer that will collect data which it will send to the Space Surveillance Network, and the Indo-French oceanographic satellite named SARAL.