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China's sky survey telescope finds two near-Earth asteroids


China's sky survey telescope finds two near-Earth asteroids
Source: Xinhua                  Editor: huaxia     
BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A wide-field telescope capable of surveying the entire sky from the Northern Hemisphere has discovered two near-Earth asteroids, astronomers said.

The two celestial bodies were first spotted on Nov. 18 by the Wide Field Survey Telescope (WFST), which started operation in September 2023 in northwest China's Qinghai Province. The Minor Planet Center under the International Astronomical Union subsequently confirmed the discovery by the telescope and designated the two asteroids 2023 WX1 and 2023 WB2.

With an estimated diameter of 170 meters, 2023 WX1 is categorized as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, for having an "Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance of 0.0416 astronomical units," equal to 6.22 million km, astronomers noted in a statement on Wednesday.

Measuring 2.5 meters in diameter, the WFST was jointly developed by the University of Science and Technology of China and the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2022, the telescope was nicknamed Mozi after the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi, also known as Micius, who is said to be the first in history to have conducted optical experiments.

One of the major goals of this telescope is to survey objects in the solar system. According to Zhao Haibin, lead of the WFST solar system bodies study program, astronomers using the telescope have already found a new batch of main-belt asteroids and rediscovered several near-Earth asteroids.