U.S. Air Force takes control of the Space Surveillance Telescope ahead of Australian move

You frequently hear about the sale of a car or a house, but it is not too often you get word of the transfer of ownership of a million dollar telescope. That’s exactly what happened on October 18, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) handed over control of the 3.5-meter Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) to the U.S. Air Force Space Command. Now that it is under the direct supervision of the Air Force, the military branch plans to undertake the complex project of moving the telescope from its installation at White Sands New Mexico to its new home in Australia.

Operational since February 2011, the SST is capable of scanning large regions of the sky, with an affinity for detecting space debris and satellites at geosynchronous orbit about 22,000 miles above the surface of the earth. The SST is unique among existing deep space telescopes — it is outfitted with some of most steeply curved mirrors ever to be used in a powerful telescope and has lightning fast optics. This gives the telescope the ability to track faint objects and capture rapidly occurring events like a supernova. To record these observations, the SST comes equipped with a CCD-enhanced camera that can take thousands of images each night without distortion.

It may have cutting edge optics and cameras, but the SST is best known for its wide field of view that allows it to scan large swaths of the sky in a short period. “The SST has moved space situational awareness from looking through a drinking straw to a windshield view, where we can see 10,000 objects the size of a softball at a time — any of which could put satellites at risk,” said DARPA program manager Lt. Col. Travis Blake.

The primary purpose of the SST is satellite monitoring and space debris tracking. The telescope scans the sky, recording the movement of debris and looking for potentially destructive collisions between spacecraft and space debris. Not only is the SST adept at tracking dangerous space debris, but it also is skilled at detecting asteroids. Since it went online in 2011, the telescope has observed millions of asteroids and has led to the discovery of 3,600 new ones. “SST has become the most prolific tool for asteroid observations in the world,” said Darpa’s SST telescope manager Lindsay Millard.

Currently, the SST is located at the White Sands Missle Range in New Mexico, but it won’t be staying there much longer. According to an agreement signed in 2013, the Air Force will move the telescope to Australia at the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station. The Air Force will begin disassembling the telescope in the coming months and will oversee the transportation of the parts to Australia. Once it arrives in Australia, the telescope will be reassembled and ready for service in 2020.

Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Forget joysticks — the Guts Game is controlled by a sensor that you swallow

Researchers have created an unusual new game in which players swallow a biosensor and then compete to raise or lower the temperature in their gut. Sound crazy? Here's why it could catch on.
Emerging Tech

Step inside the Nepalese restaurant staffed by robot waiters

A robotics startup from Nepal has created a robot waiter called Ginger. It's capable of delivering food from kitchen to table, and can even engage customers in a bit of friendly banter as it does so.
Emerging Tech

Doctors could soon ditch stitches and seal skin wounds with lasers

Just like the dermal regenerator in Star Trek, physicians may soon be able to heal skin wounds using smart, laser-based technology. That's thanks to researchers from Arizona State University.
Emerging Tech

From tornado flushes to remote controls, modern toilets are flush with tech

With the global observance of World Toilet Day on November 19, we take a look at how the modern toilet in our homes and businesses have evolved, and how they are becoming smarter tools in the future.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects the all-important landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission

NASA said on Monday that the landing site for its much-anticipated Mars 2020 rover mission has the potential to "revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life."
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘space wheat’ is helping earthbound farmers grow crops quicker

Could NASA technology for growing plants on other planets help farmers improve crop yield here on Earth? According to researchers in Australia and the U.K., the answer is a resounding yes.