The ATLAS Survey: Saving the World

ATLAS 2 on Maunaloa

The Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) is an asteroid impact early-warning system being developed by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA. ATLAS will provide one day’s warning for a 30-kiloton “town killer,” a week for a 5-megaton “city killer,” and three weeks for a 100-megaton “county killer”. The system consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects. It will also detect hundreds of supernovae, and possibly new types of astronomical phenomena.

“The ATLAS vision demonstrates that big science and big data are possible at low cost and small size. Our unique time-domain view of the universe has created research opportunities across many astronomical disciplines, from the solar system to black hole mergers.”  — Larry Denneau,