The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has entered into an agreement with Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) for cooperation in the field of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Astrophysics. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary of ISRO and Dipankar Banerjee, Director of ARIES, Nainital through videoconference mode at ISRO and ARIES Headquarters.
 
 
What
  1. Space objects orbital tracking, analysis and space weather studies are important aspects in Space Situational Awareness and Management to safeguard Indian space assets from critical conjunction threats from space debris.
  2. Future endeavors in space exploration depend on R&D in Astrophysics, solar sciences and space environment, self-reliance in these areas is key to the progress of Indian space arena.
  3. This MoU will pave the way for future collaborations between ISRO and ARIES in establishing optical telescope observational facilities for space object tracking, R&D studies in space weather, astrophysics and Near Earth Object (NEO).
About ARIES
  1. Situated in Nainital, ARIES ( an acronym of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences ) is one of the leading research Institutes which specializes in observational Astronomy & Astrophysics and Atmospheric Sciences. 
  2. The main research interests of Astronomy & Astrophysics division are in solar, planetary, stellar, galactic and extra-galactic astronomy including stellar variabilities, X-ray binaries, star clusters, nearby galaxies, quasars, and inherently transient events like supernovae and highly energetic gammaray bursts.
  3. Research focus in Atmospheric Sciences division is mainly in the lower part of the atmosphere and covers the studies on aerosols and trace gases.Moreover, to strengthen the scientific contribution
  4. The institute was started on 20 April 1954 under the supervision of Dr.A.N.Singh as Uttar Pradesh State Observatory (UPSO) in the premises of the Govt. Sanskrit College, presently known as Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. 
  5. With the creation of the State of Uttarakhand on 9 Nov 2000, and because of its geographical location within the boundaries of Uttarakhand, UPSO came under the administrative control of the new government and was re-christened as the State Observatory (SO). 
  6. Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) was its new name when it came under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India as an autonomous body on 22 March 2004.
What is the NEO?
  1. NEOs occasionally approach close to the Earth as they orbit the Sun, NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Study (CNEOS) determines the times and distances of these objects as and when their approach to the Earth is close.
  2. NASA defines NEOs as comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits which allows them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
  3. These objects are composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles.
  4. The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is largely due to their status as relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process over 4.6 billion years ago.
  5. Therefore, these NEOs offer scientists clues about the chemical mixture from the planets formed.
  6. Significantly, among all the causes that will eventually cause the extinction of life on Earth, an asteroid hit is widely acknowledged as one of the likeliest.
  7. Over the years, scientists have suggested different ways to ward off such a hit, such as blowing up the asteroid before it reaches Earth, or deflecting it off its Earth-bound course by hitting it with a spacecraft.
  8. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program finds, tracks and characterises over 90 per cent of the predicted number of NEOs that are 140 metre or larger in size (larger than a small football stadium).
  9. NASA maintains that objects of this size and larger pose a risk to Earth of “the greatest concern” due to the level of devastation that the impact is capable of causing.
  10. Further, no asteroid larger than 140 metre has a “significant” chance of hitting the Earth for the next 100 years, less than half of the estimated 25,000 NEOs that are 140 metres or larger in size have been found to date.