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Two Space Missions Planned To Look For Killer Asteroids

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the extinction-level-event dept.

Space 60

The Bad Astronomer writes "Today, the B612 Foundation announced it's seeking private funds to build Sentinel, a space mission to find Earth-threatening asteroids. Placed in a Venus-like orbit, it should find a large fraction of these potentially hazardous rocks. At the same time, the NEOCam (Near Earth Object camera) website went live today. This is a separate, publicly-funded space mission also designed to look for these asteroids. While Sentinel will concentrate on finding them and getting accurate positions and orbits, NEOCam will focus more on getting their physical characteristics. While not strictly competing with each other, they are more complementary; with both missions flying (in the 2017 time range) we will learn a huge amount about the asteroid threat from space."

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Asteroids are no big deal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489243)

Because, you know, we have a politically-kosher method of stopping them from hitting us, right?

Hmm, oh, yeah.. well.. at least we'll see it coming. Baby steps, I suppose.

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489673)

To put their fears into context... ( and appropriate scale )

Asteroid Watcher: "Oh my god, did you see that? That train nearly hit us. We need to do something about it."

Realist: "What Train? I can't see any trains..."

Asteroid Watcher: "That one in London. According to my timetable, it just left the station."

Realist: "But we're in New York."

Asteroid Watcher: "But it was a near miss. We can't tell if it's going to hit us until it's too late. Let's nuke every train in London just to make sure they can't hit us."

Yep, that's about the scale of it. And what would happen if they really could predict an asteroid was going to hit us? They'd move important and influential people ( ie, Assholes ) to safe places around the world and leave the rest of us to wonder what that incredibly loud noise was, if we were still able to think about it at all.

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40491469)

Please get hit by a train.

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490091)

Hmm, oh, yeah.. well.. at least we'll see it coming. Baby steps, I suppose.

I don't know why you're so negative about it. Even a false alarm would mean Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck will be sent up. It's a plan with no drawbacks!

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490537)

I don't know why you're so negative about it. Even a false alarm would mean Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck will be sent up. It's a plan with no drawbacks!

Only for the first one... what about the next? I mean... were will you manage to find another Bruce Willis, Einstein?

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40490631)

Oh Jesus, how about a spoiler alert.

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491017)

what about the next? I mean... were will you manage to find another Bruce Willis, Einstein?

We can always send up Tom Cruise
 

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40492147)

Or Will Smith, who's starred in a couple of alien infestation movies (MIB, ID4).

Re:Asteroids are no big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40493011)

I"m not sure of all the implications of killer asteroids attacking from space, but I think that would be a great name for a band.

why is there so much hype about "killer asteroids" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489303)

does somebody know something they're not telling us about

Re:why is there so much hype about "killer asteroi (3, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489347)

no, people are being conditioned by mass media and government to be in a constant state of emergency and looking for something about which to panic. This provides opportunity for profiteering, for control, to maintain power.

Forget to put on your tinfoil helmet this morning? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489403)

no, people are being conditioned by mass media and government to be in a constant state of emergency and looking for something about which to panic.

That's an exaggeration. Mass media thinks they can't sell anything if it doesn't have a sensationalistic headline.

Not anymore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489537)

Yours is an old platitude with no basis in reality anymore. This hasn't been an exaggeration since the start of the Iraq war.

Re:Forget to put on your tinfoil helmet this morni (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489619)

thank you for providing one motive for the problem I pointed out. And lawmakers can't get noticed without a Cause to push legislation

Re:why is there so much hype about "killer asteroi (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40492441)

...are being conditioned by mass media and government...

Excuse me, but what Government? The last time I checked government was all "It's cool, we can do that, we'll figure something out" and mass media was all "END OF WORLD: You all gonna die tomorrow!" and government was still "Naaahhh...we'll figure something out, we're talking right now as a matter of fact...". At least that's the impression I got in the last time. Politicians who scare people do no get voted...but newspapers which scare people get bought.

Re:why is there so much hype about "killer asteroi (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40501557)

the Government that gropes your crotch because The Terrorist Boogeymen are everywhere. The Government that wars on people who did not attack us while hyping a War on Terror. The government that has our soldiers guard and ship drugs, and protect drug lords, while making anti-drug campaigns and outlawing useful chemicals and equipment because 'only a drug maker would use them'. A government that declares it has the right to kill citizens it suspects are terrorists without trial while hyping a War on Terror because the Terrorsts are Everywhere.

Re:why is there so much hype about "killer asteroi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40500645)

Let's hope for our sake they don't get to the point of taxing us to death to pay for asteroid/ET protection.

Re:why is there so much hype about "killer asteroi (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490555)

does somebody know something they're not telling us about

Yes.... be afraid, be very afraid (just forget your internets spy on you and unemployment is bad... just give us your money)

Waste of money (1, Informative)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489385)

When was the last time in recorded history an asteroid landed on people? That's right, never. Even the Tunguska thing flattened a lot of trees but killed no one. That's because the Earth isn't rigged like Coruscant, or Trantor. But if you want to look for rocks which have essentially the same orbit as the Earth, and could be nudged into a double-lunar capture to become a source of raw materials in cis-lunar space, I'll sign up for that one.

So.. your logic is as follows.. (3, Insightful)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489625)

Use technology designed to find asteroids that could hit earth in order to nudge asteroids closer to earth.

I think your idea is suicidal. This will encourage us to find an adequate method of deflecting or completely eliminating the threats posed by asteroids, which will increase in number if we start playing with their orbits. In addition, if there was a real threat, the whole world might actually wake up and stop killing each other, if only for a short period of time.

Let's first determine threats, and find methods to deal with said threats, before we start creating more of them.

Re:So.. your logic is as follows.. (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490047)

Knowing all those megatons of iron are waiting up there will have a quieting effect on the world's population.

Re:So.. your logic is as follows.. (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#40516277)

..the whole world might actually wake up and stop killing each other..

I know its the classic feeling of how we all behave. But its wrong. Otherwise there wouldn't be 7 billion of us on this planet. For the most part, we are not in fact very good at killing each other.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489663)

Regardless, interplanetary and interstellar cartography is a subject of interest among astronomers. Asteroids haven't landed on people, but they're widely regarded to be responsible for some fairly large extinction events back in the day.

Re:Waste of money (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489691)

Millons or even most of mankind could die, but the banks will be healthy and alive. That is a better use for that money

Seriously, if a killer asteroid were coming to Earth 100 or 1000 years ago, we were out of luck, no good way to detect it till it was too late, no way to stop or deflect it. The others that had that coming before are oil by now, and of course, if they had money by then it would had lost all meaning shortly after the hit. So, if something of that kind is in our way using almost all the money in the world to detect and do something to avoid that fate will be a good investment.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40492725)

What if one or two of the objects it spots has a near approach to earth that requires a low delta-v to reach for mining? Knowing the composition of an asteroid is important for knowing how to deflect or destroy it, but it's also important for gathering any materials of value. Planetary Resources [planetaryresources.com] should put up some of the capital for access to its data.

Re:Waste of money (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490163)

Well we DO seem to have extinction level events, several of which are believed to be asteroids, and there is Apophis [wikipedia.org] which may come close enough in 2029 to get pulled in for a hit in 2036. And that is what we know about, no telling what we don't.

Now am I saying the odds or good, or even better than hitting the powerball? nope, but it doesn't hurt to know more about what is out there and frankly space science has been so damned gutted the past few years if we can get some new birds up there scanning the skies by saying "ZOMFG we may need Bruce Willis and a crazy Russian ZOMFG!" then frankly I'm for it. Just imagine what we'll learn about what is out there even if it isn't gonna hit us? We may find asteroids that are good sources of raw materials, hell with space exploration frankly you'll never know what you are gonna find until you do it.

So sign me up, seems a better use of money than pissing another trillion down the drain blowing some country up so we can hand out no bid contracts just to rebuild it again.

Re:Waste of money (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490513)

When was the last time in recorded history an asteroid landed on people?

We're fucking overdue you twit.

Our current Asteroid watchers miss REALLY HUGE THINGS drifting around in the back yard... [wikipedia.org]

Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly. It is estimated to be approximately 2300–2400 km in diameter, and 27% more massive than Pluto, or about 0.27% of the Earth's mass.

Eris was discovered in January 2005 by a Palomar Observatory-based team led by Mike Brown, and its identity was verified later that year.

We're basically blind. Something around Pluto's size with 27% more mass was just discovered in 2005... That doesn't mean it wasn't there until 2005, it means we need more eyes in the sky. What if it had been on a collision course with us?! We'd have been kicking ourselves for not "wasting" more money on the space program for the previous 35 years then, eh? (Eris is a big reason why Pluto isn't called a planet anymore, don't you keep up with the basic solar system science? I mean, you're posting about it...)

The dinosaurs didn't have a space program. Not looking for asteroids doesn't make them go away. While you're burring your head in the sand, how do you ignore the fossil record within it?

If we start RIGHT NOW, we might have enough time to get some pioneers like Elon Musk and his SpaceX team out to the asteroid belt, bump a few big rocks into Lunar Orbit, ready to sling them at any incoming to use as a gravity tug or to hit the planet-killers (you don't have to smash it, just tap it). Hell, maybe even mine a few while we're at it, but at least we'd be somewhat armed. A blind sniper is useless.

We won't be able to stop something the size of Eris this late in the game, but we may be able to set up a few permanent self sustainable colonies so all our eggs aren't in one fucking basket. I wish people like you would just go die in a fire before you condemn us all to such a fate.. Your moronic votes deprive us of space exploration funding, and could mean the end of mankind all because you're just an ignorant fool who thinks they know a hell of a lot more than they actually do.

Re:Waste of money (4, Insightful)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491929)

Eris is a trans-Neptunian object. That is it orbits the sun further out than Neptune. It is between 37 to 98 times further away from the sun than earth depending on which part of its orbit its in. It is not even close to a impact risk and tells us *nothing* about if we can detect potential extinction level events.

We're fucking overdue you twit.

No we are not, and you have a potty mouth.

Re:Waste of money (3, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#40494061)

It is not even close to a impact risk

GP never claimed it was.

and tells us *nothing* about if we can detect potential extinction level events.

I disagree. If a rock such as Eris can go un-noticed for 75 years after a rock such as Pluto is discovered, I think it says we could be looking harder.

We're fucking overdue you twit.

No we are not

There does seem to be a lack of consensus regarding this.. if memory serves correct, some say we're not due for some time, some say we're simply due, and others say we've been overdue by up to 30 million years. Personally, I don't see that it matters. It has happened in the past, will happen in the future, and at present, we are unprepared for it. One could make the argument that "we should fix the problems here first otherwise why does it fucking matter?", but I feel that overlooks the possibility that our becoming prepared for an impact event could become the means for fixing problems on this mudball. NASA's advancements didn't just benefit the space program after all. And no, that doesn't mean focusing all of our resources on asteroid detection and impact event mitigation.

and you have a potty mouth.

And that is pertinent to the discussion because...?

Re:Waste of money (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#40494241)

From the wiki:

Eris currently has an apparent magnitude of 18.7, making it bright enough to be detectable to some amateur telescopes. A 200 mm telescope with a CCD can detect Eris under favourable conditions.[c] The reason it had not been noticed until now is its steep orbital inclination; most searches for large outer Solar System objects concentrate on the ecliptic plane, where most bodies are found.

We didn't see it because we didn't bother looking. Earth crossing objects, yea we are looking. To use this as an example of how we are blind to potential earth impact objects is plain stupid.

There does seem to be a lack of consensus regarding this..

Not really. Its a probabilistic model. The chance of it happening every year is the same. No matter how many years there hasn't been one, does not make it more likely the next year. Just because there was one last year, also doesn't change the odds of one happening next year. You are not due or over due or nothing like that.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40496281)

We're fucking overdue you twit.

I hope most people here understand that the likelyhood is the same every year, no matter how long ago the last impact has been.

Re:Waste of money (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490919)

Waste of money? Remind me never to hire you to do my risk assessments.

Spending a tiny fraction of your revenues to negate potential show stoppers is usually considered good business practice.

Re:Waste of money (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491147)

...and could be nudged into a double-lunar capture to become a source of raw materials in cis-lunar space, I'll sign up for that one.

Ooopps... sorry... it slipped my fingers (bye southern China. North-eastern US coast was nice, wish you could see it).

Re:Waste of money (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491219)

Dinosaurs aren't people? You're classist, you are!

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40491521)

Ignorance at its finest, ladies and gentlemen and Beowulf cluster of iPhone robots called Julian trying to escape from BP who have no relation to an oil spill.

We barely know of dangerous rocks in space.
We know a select few large ones, but not the ones that can still wipe our a CITY if we never noticed it.
Directed almost nuclear explosion in the air level events are just as bad as ground impacts.

We already have Planetary Resources doing what you suggested.
We will see in 2 years if they get anywhere, which is when they are supposed to be launching some stuff in to space if I remember the live talk announcement.
There are many others, but considering this is backed by a bunch of rich people who have a real interest in the field, most likely to get anywhere.

But if we end up getting smashed by a cluster meteor event that are various levels of Tunguska all across the surface of Earth, we'll end up more in a permanent war for resources for a very long time.
Humans, went squeezed, turn awful >70% of times.
Rather than use any sense of logic, they'd sooner beat down someone else.

Red rocks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489393)

M-A-R-S Mars bitches, that's where we are going, Mars. Red rocks YAY YAY!

Re:Red rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489405)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-NkX86uPI0&feature=related

Too late (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489443)

Dinosaurs: "WTF mankind? Where were you during the cretaceous? FML."

Re:Too late (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489469)

Dinosaurs: "WTF mankind? Where were you during the cretaceous? FML."

It wasn't a comet that got them, it was man-made global warming that killed them off. Damn that George W Bush for not signing the Kyoto treaty 300 million years ago!

Too little, too late (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489527)

The asteroid that is going to end the game arrives in ... 175 days.

Or at least that's the schedule as long as Bruce Willis doesn't flake out on us.

cue Bruce Willis Comments in (-1, Redundant)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489837)

5. . 4 ... 3 ... 2..

Re:cue Bruce Willis Comments in (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491247)

One kick from Chuck Norris and it's on its way to the Oort cloud.

The real reason.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40489861)

And the folks behind it.
Big Oil.
They know the writing is on the wall, and the end of oil is nigh. If they take all their profits and invest it in asteroid deflection/redirection then they have something else that they can extort money from us with.
And one can always "discover" asteroids on a collision course with some particular region on earth, you know, the regions that don't buy into the protection scheme... :P

Re:The real reason.... (4, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490189)

No,
The cash flush oil industries have been sinking money into alternative fuel sources for quite some time. I am currently working for a company that provides engineering services to the biggest oil and gas pipelines in the US and they are already starting to design non-oil based fuels into their delivery systems. Systems which all the major oil companies currently rely on. Why should the oil companies want to impede alternative fuel delivery systems when they can just include the new sources with the existing? Oil based products will eventually start going down and these companies are the only ones who already have delivery systems in place. If electric or natural gas powered vehicles will never fully take off until they come up with a reliable distribution system. And these systems are expensive to build from scratch but oil companies already have delivery networks for both natural gas and various types of petroleum products in place.

And a program to detect asteroids is just one more space program that everyone is constantly saying we need but when this proposed project is announced all of a sudden it is labeled as some kind of conspiracy to spend money. You can't have it both ways. Who cares if they ever detect an asteroid the main thing is they are still willing to fund new space initiatives.

We gotta start addressing the issue sometime (4, Insightful)

Beeftopia (1846720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40489923)

Might as well be now. Could spur space development, new technology, all kinds of interesting stuff. Plus, you know, stop the next bolide.

See Chicxulub Crater. [wikipedia.org] It is 2012.

Obama will save us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40490013)

All he needs to do is ignore the laws of gravitation. Problem solved!

Naming rights (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490035)

I'm not sure about the rules involved but doesn't the IAAA (or something) allow the "discoverer" (which in this case I guess will be a corporation) to name minor bodies and maybe even other things like comets.

So they should allow their sponsors to name these bodies in their stead. They're going to find thousands if not tens or even hundreds of thousands depending on the sensitivity of the instruments.

I won't donate money to save the world but to have my own private Idaho, I mean asteroid, would be cool! Especially if I knew it would wipe out all life on earth! I'll be famous (for a short time at least).

Even better would be a U.N. treaty saying that for objects up to say 1km in size, the first person to characterize a body's orbit would get to OWN IT! Not only would this make a lot of people into asteroid hunters but it would really promote the development of technology to exploit them, especially if such ownership would expire in say 20 years if no landings were achieved. It is been said that the best way to get undeveloped countries in like Africa to develop would be to get clear and effective (supported by government) title to land; this provides the incentive to invest. (I don't know what the current laws are, presumably there is something in place to allow the Google guys to profit from their asteroid venture).

By the way, what's the LOWER limit for the size of a minor body (I think the upper limit are "dwarf planets"). 500 meters? 5 meters? 5 centimeters?

Re:Naming rights (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490421)

I don't know what the current laws are, presumably there is something in place to allow the Google guys to profit from their asteroid venture.

Yeah. Finders/Keepers. When you are the only ones around ownership is something of a moot point.

Re:Naming rights (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490593)

"When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks."
-Fight Club Narrator

Uh, no. (0)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490249)

People are buying phones like mad. RIM didn't keep up with the times - they figured they've got Business Users all tied up, and why would business users want a shiny new iPhone? Well, at ${LARGE_COMPANY} where I work, us peons have been asking for iPhones forever and been told no, never gonna happen. Then the managers started wanting them, and the rest is history.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490341)

Wait a minute... this isn't the story I clicked on...

Re:Uh, no. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490609)

People are buying phones like mad. RIM didn't keep up with the times - they figured they've got Business Users all tied up, and why would business users want a shiny new iPhone? Well, at ${LARGE_COMPANY} where I work, us peons have been asking for iPhones forever and been told no, never gonna happen. Then the managers started wanting them, and the rest is history.

...

Wait a minute... this isn't the story I clicked on...

So you're saying it would have been easier to serve Julian Assange with an Extradition Notice if the British Police's management demanded iphones?

Re:Uh, no. (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490705)

Don't be ridiculous. I'm saying management demanding iPhones is what caused global warming.

Re:Uh, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40490463)

This isn't the story you're looking for

Re:Uh, no. (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490617)

Yup, you'll note I already replied to myself stating that fact.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40491261)

A book about Drupal? Must get 7/10.

Could we get more ominous names? (1)

FauxReal (653820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40490503)

NEOCam and Sentinel sound like they're primed for accidental sentience before they come up with the decision that the biggest threat to Earth are it's inhabitants.

www.brand-onlinerabat.dk,nike free run 2 fluoresce (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40490897)

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most intelligent post in slashdot history (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40492913)

I don't want to tell these people how to do their jobs but it seems to me like they should also, at the same time, invent tested and working technology to stop an asteroid as well or it sort of defeats the purpose.

Name reuse ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40493251)

Sentinel is the name of a mission from European Space Agency GMES program....
http://www.esa.int/esaLP/SEM097EH1TF_LPgmes_0.html
Is NASA running out of names ?

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