You think your fancy new digital camera has a lot of megapixels? Well if you plan to hunt in deepest space for asteroids that could be hurtling towards Earth, you're going to need some serious resolution.
That's why the Pan-STARRS space camera in Hawaii boasts a humongous 1,400 Megapixel imager that's almost 16 inches across. Run by the PS1 Science Consortium, It automatically snaps 500 pictures of the sky every night, resulting in 4 terabytes of data that gets sent to the Maui High Performance Computing Center for comparisons with earlier images. This allows them to determine which asteroids pose a potential collision threat to Earth. During the initial three years of the program they expect to locate and map about 100,000 asteroids, after which an even larger camera called P4 will take over.
That's all wonderful, but what's the plan if they do discover a huge asteroid that's headed straight for us?