The researchers will use the HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) array to shoot 9.6 megahertz radio waves at the 2010 XC15 asteroid. HAARP is a government-funded research program that generally studies the ionosphere (part of Earth’s atmosphere at 50 to 400 miles above the surface).
However, this will be the first time it will be used to examine an asteroid.
HAARP will dig deep into the asteroid
Astronomers have been shooting radio waves in space to spot asteroids; figure out their shape, trajectory, structure of their surface, and many other characteristics. For this purpose, they use radio waves having frequency ranges either in the S-band (2,000 to 4,000 MHz) or X-band (8,000 to 12,000 MHz).
Interestingly, for probing 2010 XC15, the researchers are using waves of much lower frequency (9.6 MHz) and longer wavelengths because, this time, they don’t just want to explore the surface of the asteroid. They want to know what’s inside.
Information about the interiors could reveal important details about the damage that an asteroid could cause and help scientists figure out an effective counter-strategy.
Explaining this further, the lead researcher and engineer at NASA, Mark Haynes, said, “What’s new and what we are trying to do is probe asteroid interiors with long wavelength radars and radio telescopes from the ground. Longer wavelengths can penetrate the interior of an object.”