Canadian NEO search satellite launched from India

India’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted seven satellites, including the Canadian NEO search satellite NEOSSat, into orbit Monday.

The 145-foot-tall rocket blasted off at 1231 GMT (7:31 a.m. EST) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s east coast, where it was 6:01 p.m. local time.

The expendable four-stage launcher climbed into a sun-splashed evening sky, initially flying southeast over the Bay of Bengal, and then turning south to bypass Sri Lanka and ascend into space over the Indian Ocean.

The mission’s seven payloads were deployed in orbit 490 miles above Earth in less than 22 minutes, wrapping up the PSLV’s 23rd mission and its 19th success in a row.

Canada’s NEOSSat satellite is the first space telescope designed to search for hazardous Earth-crossing asteroids.

The $24 million NEOSSat mission will scan the sky for asteroids lurking near Earth, including objects orbiting close to the sun, making their discoveries challenging for traditional ground-based telescopes.

Engineers outfitted the suitcase-sized satellite with a baffle to allow the telescope to point closer to the sun than other observatories. Astronomers will try to pick out asteroids as they streak through a matrix of stars, potentially detecting up to a dozen 500-meter, or 1,640-foot, asteroids each month, plus scores of smaller objects.

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