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The network the researchers propose, dubbed ATLAS (for the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System), would consist of two observatories roughly 60 miles (100 km) apart that together would scan the visible sky twice a night. Each observatory would house four relatively small telescopes some 10 inches (25 cm) in aperture, as well as a camera for each telescope. The distance between the observatories would provide a way of separating nearby and distant moving objects, and the system would be able to help pinpoint the location and time of an impact to a few miles and a few seconds.
Each telescope and each camera would cost roughly $50,000. The software would take up the lion's share of expenses, bringing the cost for each observatory to $1 million. Tonry also projected $500,000 annually for staff, maintenance and other operating costs. He and his colleagues have submitted a $3 million proposal to NASA to build two observatories and operate them for two years