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Russia Plans To Divert Asteroid

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the Bruce-Willis-approved dept.

Space 305

CyberDong writes "Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis, which may happen in 2036. NASA specialists believe that the collision is extremely unlikely. Russian specialists will choose the strategy and then invite the world's leading space agencies to join the project."

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305 comments

If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602274)

When they take an asteroid that's not likely to hit Earth, and accidentally divert it onto a path directly at Earth, I'm going to do an epic facepalm.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602296)

more like the asteroid will be the palm

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602308)

There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.

Yet, people win the damn lottery every day.

USA: no need to bother, it likely won't happen.
Russia: better not take any chance.

I'll go with Russia's solution, thank you very much.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602360)

NO, there is a bigger chance to be hit by an asteroid than to win a lottery. Because Apophis is under observation we know exactly what the risk is. The real risks come from objects we are not currently observing.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (5, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602522)

Indeed. There's a lot of exciting lotteries out there and we've got tickets in all of them.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602834)

The real risks come from objects we are not currently observing.

Russian scientists.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602366)

"There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery." - Also filed under things not likely to happen in my lifetime. Along with the core of the Earth stopping spinning, cosmic rays causing the interior of the Earth to overheat, and aliens coming to destroy the Earth, only to be stopped by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum uploading a virus into the alien mothership on a Powerbook 5300c. The Earth has survived for many, many, many years more likely asteroid strikes that never happened. In fact, I would argue that there are more pressing possible disasters that are not of cosmic origin that are more likely to happen on any given day. Apophis isn't even a world disaster level event. It's not large enough. And again, it's probably less likely than the massive US west coast earthquake we're due for.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602458)

There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.

Doesn't seem likely to me. If an asteroid hits the planet, there might not be any more lotteries run after that. And the likelihood of the asteroid hitting, and me winning the lottery shortly afterward is vanishingly small, especially as I don't enter lotteries.

Even if it did hit... (5, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602602)

From the Wikipedia:

Any impact would be extremely detrimental to an area of thousands of square kilometres, but would be unlikely to have long-lasting global effects, such as the initiation of an impact winter.

Also, this. [wikipedia.org] Looks like Russia has a lot more at stake then America does.

( In before [citation needed] )

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

vasp (978274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602474)

I think your logic is flawed.

What are the chances that someone will win the lottery? Pretty damn high in comparison.

Therefor the chances that our planet is going to get hit is a lot smaller than someone winning the lottery this week.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602566)

He meant one individual ticket winning the lottery.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

vasp (978274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602596)

There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery. Yet, people win the damn lottery every day.

You mean some guy out there is winning the lottery every day? I would love to know what numbers he's using

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602888)

"There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.
Yet, people win the damn lottery every day."

People do not win the lottery every day. It goes for months on end with no winners.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (5, Insightful)

Trackster (761525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602330)

When they invite NASA and ESA to join in, I'm confident that cooler heads will prevail. I can easily trust a decision that results from these 3 putting their heads together.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602560)

Yeah, not going to happen. The problem is, who is going to fund all of it? Russia's space agency is operating at a shoestring budget, NASA since the cold war ended isn't getting tons of money, and I'm not sure about the ESA but it seems kinda tiny when compared to NASA and the Russian space agencies. The problem with global cooperation is that if Russia has the best idea according to say, the ESA, but NASA has more money but has an idea no one likes, they might end up having to do it because they aren't going to finance the ESA/Russia's idea.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602840)

So the problem was NASA saying that the asteroid is not going to hit Earth? They should have said it will, and money will suddenly flow, just like in the movies.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602846)

I suspect the mechanics and eventual funding are not the issue. The issue is "(Russia) then invites the world's leading space agencies to join the project.".

What I find interesting about this is there is some value in being seen as the visible innovator. Look at the kudos China got from the story a few days ago about their fast train(made actually by the Germans etc). Who has the fastest train? The Chinese. Who will save the earth from doom? The Russians.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

Looce (1062620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602332)

Bullshit. You won't have the face and palm to do that... anymore.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (4, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602352)

based on their experience with avoiding snow - I consider this to be a highly likely outcome.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (5, Insightful)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602390)

When they take an asteroid that's not likely to hit Earth, and accidentally divert it onto a path directly at Earth, I'm going to do an epic facepalm.

Orbital mechanics have a funny way of making an object return to its point of egress. Given how close it is, it is a bit concerning they want to adjust its orbit.

That said, I feel this is something we need more experience in anyhow. Their is already an asteroid out there right now with our name on it, it is just a matter of time before it shows up. We will lose out if we don't take this opportunity to field test our idea's as we have the tech to do so now. As an economical side point, one day I'm sure we'd like to know how to slowly adjust their paths to bring them into an more contained/slower orbit around/near Earth so we can begin mining them for untold trillions of $ worth of materials they contain.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (5, Insightful)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602624)

Exactly so. It doesn't matter if Apophis is going to hit us or not, the point is that this is a perfect opportunity to practise deflection strategies in advance of the real life-or-death event. There are going to be flaws in our thinking, every single asteroid shunting plan we have is untested and will be less than perfect when put into practise. We absolutely need to know whether there are critical mission failure flaws in these plans, or just minor irritations that won't ruin things.

When it finally comes to the point when an asteroid is on a direct collision course, we might not be lucky, we might not have seen it decades in advance, and so a test run and lots of arguing about methods might not be an option.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602410)

Well if you believe they can calculate the odds of it hitting earth based on its current estimated path, then surely they can calculate how to modify the trajectory so as to reduce the odds.

On the other hand, I agree that since it already sounds incredibly unlikely that it will hit us, screwing with it sounds like a silly idea.

On the other, other hand I would rather have someone out there treating the problem of meteor impact like it is real and developing a plan to address it. For a plan to have a high chance of success relative to the consequences of an asteroid that we think has a high chance of hitting us (two very different values of "high"), I think it would take a long time to develop and test. As in quite a bit more time than between now and 2036. As the date approaches, and in the case that further study suggests the asteroid is even less likely to hit us, maybe we can do some proof-of-concept tests like actually intercepting the meteor or other important steps to be ready for when we're really in danger.

On the last hand, which I now realize is my right foot, the main reason I don't want to rely on any last-minute ad-hoc plan to save the earth from a planet killer is because, succeed or fail, any universe in which the movie Armageddon plays out in reality is one that I can't go on living in.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602716)

I don’t. I will just stand is the direction of the oncoming asteroid and let it give me the epic facepalm.

At least that way I’m 100% sure I won’t die slowly and cruely in the nuclear winter.

If I can, I will also do all the nasty illegal shit right before that. All drugs, crimes and sick shit ever invented. ^^

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602832)

On the other hand, NASA is well known for being real good at deciding something isn't dangerous.

Re:If it's not broken, why are you fixing it? (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602842)

Well, I would hope... sincerely hope... that they plan to track the asteroid and confirm its course before trying to do anything. Fortunately its not very expensive to do it the right way, assuming they go with a gravity tractor and not something ridiculous like a kinetic impactor.

The equipment required to move it isn't very different from the equipment required to study it, so you can go out, track it (having a radio beacon can improve your estimates by 10-100x), and figure out where its going. If it is an impact risk, you move it out of the way. If its not you practice moving it further to make sure we know how if we need to in the future, making sure at all times to be sure to do no harm.

From what I've heard (friend of mine was at a conference with many of them), the NEO guys in Russia are a little behind us, but they're not stupid. I'd bet this statement is just the kind of thing to get their own people excited again, since Roscosmos hasn't been able to do much beyond keep the Proton/Soyuz and cargo transport businesses going, and to remind the world that they were once a space power as well.

The one thing that'll guarantee an Asteroid strike (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602290)

Is the ability to divert asteroids.

Wonderful weapon, just massive blast damage and no residual radiation.

Re:The one thing that'll guarantee an Asteroid str (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602430)

90% chance of a 1 megaton asteroid hitting vs 10% chance of a 27 megaton asteroid hitting. I would take the first one myself.

Re:The one thing that'll guarantee an Asteroid str (3, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602876)

How about a 100% chance of it hitting the moon.

I think that we can arrange it. I would definitely prefer to have my tax dollar spent making something cool like that happen, rather than spend it on bailouts or diverting it directly into the pockets of the health insurance industry.

Re:The one thing that'll guarantee an Asteroid str (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602574)

Too awkward, and only useful for a single strike.

The radiation issue is a trifle. Atmospheric testing demonstrated that a single massive blast won't cause enough radiation to matter to an attacker willing to use a nuke in the first place. The total number of atmospheric test blasts amounts to a smallish nuclear war, proving such a war is quite practical.

Extremely unlikely (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602310)

NASA: Listen, there's no way that thing is going to hit us.
Roscosmos: Naturally, since we're diverting it. Thank you for your vote of confidence, American pigs.

Re:Extremely unlikely (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602730)

Nah, you forgot that little bit of emphasis: ;)

NASA: Listen, there's no way that thing is going to hit us.
Roscosmos: Yeah, because it’s going to hit us, dickheads.

In Soviet Russia. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602316)

You hit Aster... wait.

In Soviet Russia, Asteroid hits Y...

I've been defeated.

Re:In Soviet Russia. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602358)

On Asteroid, Soviet Russia hits YOU!

Great quote in the article (4, Funny)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602318)

"Everything will be done according to the laws of physics."

That's what they all say...

Re:Great quote in the article (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602368)

"If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

Re:Great quote in the article (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602774)

"If it goes in, it must come out." Teslacles deviant to Fudd's First Law

Re:Great quote in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602450)

You mean "That's what she said..."

Re:Great quote in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602772)

Hopefully they wont forget to convert imperial to metric like with the mars lander

Relax (4, Insightful)

Yurka (468420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602320)

It's just another way of diverting the flow of government money into a few carefully chosen pockets. As is the nano-technology research program, and the snow-free winters mentioned earlier today. Think about it: an open-ended grant with no accountability for a quarter century - and likely ever? They'll get a couple government defaults and an odd coup in between, who's going to care about the small stuff.

Sounds Fishy (4, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602334)

Actually, it sounds like Perminov has no idea what he's talking about to begin with, so it seems unlikely that this will go anywhere. Consider this quote, from the original AP article:

Without mentioning NASA's conclusions, Perminov said that he heard from a scientist that Apophis is getting closer and may hit the planet. "I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032," Perminov said.

Note that the NASA conclusion is that, no, there will be no strike in 2032 and unlikely in 2036. It sounds like he's a bureaucrat trying to make himself important by making up a job. That doesn't bode well for the projecting going anywhere.

(Phil Plait [discovermagazine.com] has talked about this, too.)

Re:Sounds Fishy (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602480)

This is everything currently known about the orbit of 99942 Apophis.

http://aeweb.tamu.edu/aero489/Apophis%20Mitigation%20Project/Predicting%20Earth%20Encounters.pdf [tamu.edu]

We'll know more in 2012/2013 when radar returns can be collected. Anyone who says that there is "no chance", "nearly no chance" or anything other than "we don't have enough data yet" is just trying to stem public panic by treating you like a child. Read the scientific papers, make your own decision and for god sakes, don't criticize the people we may be calling on to save lives in the future.

The fact is, asteroid detection systems (let alone mitigation systems) globally are woefully inadequate. We need at least a dozen radar telemetry satellites in solar orbit and improvements in the deep-space-network to handle that kind of data through-put. Total cost is likely in the tens of billions, and most of that will go on the telescopes, not the radar sats, and traditionally that's the most starved part of all national budgets diverted to space.

Re:Sounds Fishy (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602518)

Well then we definitely don't have enough information to choose a method. If we don't know enough to estimate the likelihood of impact, then we don't know enough about the trajectory to even consider screwing with it. The Earth has been around for billions of years and in the last several hundred million years, it's been hit by how many bodies large enough to threaten all life?

That's not to say that it couldn't happen, but it is an indication of what kind of stuff our orbit leads us through on a regular basis. And a reason to be concerned when anybody suggests that we monkey around with an asteroid, sure we might succeed in changing it's velocity, but we might very well cause it to hit us rather than narrowly avoiding us.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602636)

Well then we definitely don't have enough information to choose a method.

There's certainly capabilities that we should be thinking about acquiring. At this point in time the only demonstrated technology we have is flying a very low-mass probe to the asteroid and slamming into it. This will have little to no effect on the orbit of the asteroid - certainly not enough for mitigation. So if we want to have any hope of diverting an asteroid in the future we need to improve our capabilities now.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602718)

If we don't know enough to estimate the likelihood of impact, then we don't know enough about the trajectory to even consider screwing with it.

In ten years, we will have better information on this asteroid, and a better idea of whether it's going to hit or not. If it's going to hit, we want to have some means of deflecting it. If we want to have some means of deflecting it in ten years, we should start developing it now.

Re:Sounds Fishy (3, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602828)

The Earth has been around for billions of years and in the last several hundred million years, it's been hit by how many bodies large enough to threaten all life?

Please note that Apophis is nowhere near large enough to "threaten all life".

Wreck a city? It can do that.

Make a spectular boom? That too.

But it's not a threat to "all life". Or even most life. Or even a little bit of life (unless it lands on the last four white rhinos in the wild).

Re:Sounds Fishy (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602882)

Be careful what you say there... you might just debunk the nuclear boogie man. An Apophis sized impact is said to be equivalent to about 1000 H-bombs.

Re:Sounds Fishy (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602606)

Anyone who says that there is "no chance", "nearly no chance" or anything other than "we don't have enough data yet" is just trying to stem public panic by treating you like a child.

The authors of the paper you link said pretty much exactly that in their abstract. Saying "we don't have enough data yet" is a cop-out; we know enough to make a pretty good prediction, which is all you can ever do.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602626)

They most certainly did not say that. The abstract says that current estimates have MASSIVE error margins and that without more data we can't be sure of the current predictions.. I know its not exactly an easy read but it's right there on the page.

Re:Sounds Fishy (3, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602690)

Instead of being insulting, why not read it yourself?

A small estimated Earth impact probability remained for 2036.

and

While the potential for impact in 2036 will likely be excluded in 2013 (if not 2011) using ground-based optical
measurements,

No, the odds of impact aren't zero. But they're not anywhere near high enough to be really freaked, either. You're more likely to die of swine flu in the US, after all. So no, we astrophysicists are not trying to treat you like a child, we're trying to explain to you what these odds mean.

(Note that no one is saying that we shouldn't look at ways to protect ourselves from asteroids in general. But this particular politician's claims and sources seem questionable and I, for one, don't think he's going to lead us to any real improvements in our protection.)

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602734)

Sigh. The whole paper is about the errors in estimation and how inaccurate the parts you are selectively quoting are.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602616)

It would be great if we could land a transponder on 99942 Apophis on or after the next closest approach because our best option in the case of an impact will be to evacuate the landing site well in advance. To do that we need really accurate tracking data, hence the transponder.

Its a good thing that much of the work done in the last 40 years or so on unmanned space flight has been in the design of transponders of one sort or another. Its just a shame we don't have a vehicle ready to go.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602668)

Yes, agreed. It really wouldn't be that expensive of a mission, under $650M.. the best candidate at the moment is Osiris-Rex proposed for the Discovery program in 2004 and 2006. It was recently selected as a New Frontiers mission. The mission would include mapping the asteroid, identifying resources that could be used in human exploration, and studying the potential for asteroids to impact Earth. They haven't yet selected an asteroid..

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602484)

From NASA [nasa.gov]:

"Apophis has been one of those celestial bodies that has captured the public's interest since it was discovered in 2004," said Chesley. "Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the probability of an Earth encounter on April 13, 2036, for Apophis has dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a million."

1 in 250,000 is high enough to have some people study it some more.

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602570)

Did you read the quote? The problem isn't whether asteroids are a threat, it's whether this bureaucrat knows the first thing about what he's talking about. You will note, for example, that 2036 (when Apophis has the highest chance of actually hitting Earth that we know of) is not "by 2032" as Perminov states. Also, "it seems to me there's a chance" and that he "heard from a scientist" are extremely dubious things to state. Either he has facts and figures (they exist) and could name his source, but he's a really poor communicator for his job level, or he's just making stuff up. Either way, it doesn't really inspire confidence in me. Does it make you feel like this project is going places?

Re:Sounds Fishy (1)

wynterwynd (265580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602856)

Making bold directive statements like this in press releases and then not following it up seems to be par for the course in Russian politics. Russians seem to respect boldness and the appearance of strength in leaders, he's probably either positioning for a upward move or validating his current job. In the unlikely event this does actually go somewhere, it will be interesting to see what they muster up. Part of me longs to see Tsar Bomba II and a new brief star in the sky, but realistically I expect a solution with as much substance as this press release and equally gilded.

The Really Important Question (1)

biomech (44405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602382)

Science? Schmience!!

Who do we think should take Liv Tyler's place when they film this sequel??

Can we.... (3, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602384)

Can we send annoying actors on a mission to land on this asteroid, drill down into it, and make it blow up? Oh, and can we have one of those guys have to stay behind to detonate it? Better yet, make them all have to stay behind.

Re:Can we.... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602526)

Hey this is a Russian mission...which means we have to have at least one Russian guy beating on everything with a wrench saying "Work you stupid thing!". It would only be right after all. Hey think we can get Yakov so we can kill the whole Soviet Russia meme dead while we are at it? It would be a win/win!

Re:Can we.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602680)

i nominate justin long.

Re:Can we.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602760)

I nominate the cast of Enterprise with the possible exceptions of the hot Vulcan chick and the doctor.

asteroid (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602396)

Even if Apophis has no chance of hitting Earth, attempting to divert the asteroid farther from Earth may have value as a test of our ability to do so. I would however, prefer that they did such a test on an asteroid that is not due to pass so close to Earth any time soon.

Re:asteroid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602446)

Exactly - choose something that isn't going to hit Mars and make it hit Mars (you can make the orbital adjustment close in to Earth).

Otherwise we are just asking for "oops, it would have missed completely but now it just hit the moon - and, guess what? The moon will now hit us in 100 years"...

Re:asteroid (4, Funny)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602546)

What you're asking for is either:

A) We hit Mars with an asteroid! Hooray for science! (15 years later) MARS AND EARTH WILL COLLIDE IN 100 YEARS"

B) Scientists found proof of intelligent life on Mars - recent underground civilization uncovered by asteroid impact

Re:asteroid (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602496)

If we want the power to divert asteroids we must prove we can do it in order to know we can do it.

This is a bit like atmospheric testing, which decisively proved limited nuclear wars are quite practical and suggested that total nuclear war was an extreme last resort. Some things aren't practical to simulate.

Re:asteroid (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602612)

That isn't really an answer to the notion of testing on a slightly less exciting asteroid.

Re:asteroid (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602800)

It has value because it shows that you can.

Just like putting something in orbit shows the other guys you can spy on them and drop bombs on them without needing to fly a plane over them, this shows you can divert an smaller asteroid to hit them.

Apophis (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602412)

can't you just call the assguard?

Russian hot air (3, Informative)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602424)

Having lived for most of my life in the "east" under Communism, I am sure that this announcement is hot air...along the lines of nationalistic-pride type of goals that both the U.S. and USSR used to pump out on a regular basis during the cold war. Russia can barely keep up with paying their military bills; their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat and space program is not doing well [bu.edu]; it's unthinkable that in this economic climate they will spend the kind of money required to accomplish this.

Re:Russian hot air (2, Funny)

tjhayes (517162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602514)

their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat

If their nuclear subs were floating that would be a bad thing, subs are supposed to sink under the water :)

Re:Russian hot air (2, Funny)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602894)

You'd think a commenter in the science section would understand something like buoyancy. But evidently not! Subs sink, durrrr...let's all go watch CNN now.

Re:Russian hot air (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602528)

their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat

Isn't that the whole point about subs?

(sorry. I'll be here all night, etc).

Uhhhh, excuse me but... (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602426)

Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis

This would be the same people who just tried to engineer a winter without snow in Russia, with mixed results [time.com].

Now they're going to try diverting an asteroid.

What could go wrong?

Re:Uhhhh, excuse me but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602498)

I put twenty on them diverting the asteroid away from earth, directly into Mars' orbit... or our moon.

That oughta have fun consequences.

Re:Uhhhh, excuse me but... (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602536)

Heh. If it makes you feel any better, orbital dynamics are easier to figure out than the weather since they're pretty much non-chaotic. The error mostly comes from error in measurements of its position over time, so the longer we watch it the more accurate we get, until we get forecasts like a 1-in-300,000 chance of catastrophic meteor impact in 26 years. A bit better than weather prediction, eh? By the time any interceptor actually got close, we'd know the actual trajectory very well. If we were really sure by then it wouldn't hit earth, then we could take as much time as we wanted on the asteroid-diversion mission.

If in the unlikely event that it looked like it probably would hit earth, at least there'd be something up there to try diverting it. :p

Re:Uhhhh, excuse me but... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602758)

Yeah, exactly the same guys... of all the 142 million... exactly the same...

Just like you are exactly the same guy as Dick Cheney who is exactly the same guy as Jon Steward and.. apparently... Ronald McDonald.

Wait, let me get my Lederhosen, Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and Volksmusik, so I can join it with my country.

Riiiight... ;)

Can't wait for the Shuttle with the mini gun.... (1)

rimcrazy (146022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602428)

Ah, shades of Armageddon. That wonderful movie where they so realistically portray space missions so weight critical that they bring friggin miniguns along with them. What they really need is some space faring Sharks with Lasers on their heads. That should fix it!!!!!

Re:Can't wait for the Shuttle with the mini gun... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602632)

They 'retrofitted secret military space shuttles', so really (in the context of the movie), the mission was so important that they didn't take (the time to pull) them out.

If you are going to criticize the inconsistencies present in sci-pablum, it makes a lot more sense to criticize the internal inconsistencies, not the inconsistencies with your expectations.

End of the world! (1)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602434)

CyberDong writes "Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis

....

I don't think the news is that another asteroid is coming to crush us - the problem is that vibrators have apparently obtained sentience!*

* at least enough to post on slashdot.

Dollars for Donuts (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602550)

They blast the fuck out of it, announce a successful diversion, have a big party, and go home. In 2036 the thing turns Moscow into a giant crater. Just cuz it rolls like dat.

Test drive (5, Insightful)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602638)

Even if this asteroid is not going to hit Earth, I think it's time to test drive some solutions to an inevitable problem with terrifying consequences.

As a bonus, we might actually advance science and technology!

Little more input? (2, Insightful)

LordofEntropy (250334) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602644)

I recognize the irony in asking this question as I am an American; however, shouldn't there be a little more discussion from the rest of the planet when dealing with the potential of a huge asteroid destroying the planet if someone calculates a trajectory incorrectly?

Good news bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602656)

Good news Russia successfully diverted Apophis! The bad news is it's no longer going to miss the Earth.

O RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602752)

In Soviet Russia, the asteroid diverts you!

Why no wait untill it's pass Earth, then test? (1)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602768)

Might take away some of the risks others have already mentioned...

but the good news is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602778)

If the asteroid scores a direct hit on earth in 2036, the Y2038 problem then becomes the least of our worries.

"Always look at the bright side of life"
- Eric Idle, "Life of Brian"
- Jack Nicholson, "As Good as it Gets"

The Science Fiction Pages of Guardian (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602848)

Science fiction is sometimes written on the basis of "if this goes on" or "taken to the extreme". Guardian writes theirs by taking things like offhand comments made on a radio show about someone should do something like this because it'd be a good idea, and changed it to committing a country's space program to actually doing so.

Guardian has published similar articles before and invariably doesn't even bother to cover its tracks. If plans were actually being made to carry out such a program, it is highly unlikely that a target would have been selected. And if one had been selected, it would probably have been one of the dozens of known NEOs with greater cumulative impact probabilities than Apophis. And/or rather than risk failure when success was required, would have first conducted a test mission on a rock where neither failure nor accidental retargeting would result in Earth impact, and with a small enough mass that a smaller project could have a chance of succeding. And in any case, if any actual plans were being made within the Russian space agency, its head would know more about the details such as actual perigee dates.

And just in case readers can't concentrate on science alone for the length of the article, or might not understand it if not placed in a more familiar context, Guardian manages to insert three different science fiction references. Slashdotters who do so rarely insert more than one, even when the length of their post is greater than the ~650 words of TFA.

At least by making themselves out to be irresponsible, they can avoid being expected to print retraction, corrections and/or apologies. At the rate they generate cause for such, if they were to be taken seriously, at least one full issue per year would consist solely of these.

Better to have a plan... (1)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602860)

and not need it, than to need one and have no plan. If all they're talking about is brainstorming, let them do it. It costs very little in the grand scheme of things to sit and consider your options.

2k36 problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602872)

Who knew the overflow of a 32bit integer could cause an asteroid to hit earth.

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