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NASA Considers Putting an Asteroid Into Orbit Around the Moon

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the keep-bruce-willis-on-hand-just-in-case dept.

Moon 171

Zothecula writes "To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can't go to the asteroid, then the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission (PDF) to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission. Now, Keck researchers say NASA officials are evaluating the plan to see whether it's something they want to do. The total cost is estimated to be roughly $2.6 billion."

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What could possibly go wrong? (5, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481643)

Could just imagine it done wrong and it eventually just smacks into us.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481669)

Oops sorry about that Iran, just doing some science experiments, honest!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Informative)

superdave80 (1226592) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481701)

They are looking at asteroids around 7 m in diameter. I doubt we would go the way of the dinosaurs if it fell to Earth.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481775)

Perhaps not, but it could still cause a lot of damage. Remember the Tunguska event? That asteroid was estimated to be about 100 meters, and would have wiped out an entire metro of millions of people. Even a 7 meter asteroid could cause some serious damage if it were to explode over a city.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481861)

Have you considered the possibility that they're not idiots? If it's 7m diameter asteroids, I assume those are small enough to burn up in our atmosphere. Either way, what are the chances that your thoroughly researched and calculated concerns will be something they haven't considered or justifiably dismissed?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482561)

"If it's 7m diameter asteroids, I assume those are small enough to burn up in our atmosphere."

Think again. If even the tiniest meteorites found on the ground had their origin in seven meter sized objects, the meteor showers we observe sometimes would be *much* more spectacular.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483159)

The question is perfectly reasonable for anyone on earth to ask. This idea that you can't ask rocket scientists to justify anything is pretty elitist [cnn.com] if you ask me.

How precisely can the place it in orbit. You've got something on the order of 417 metric tons of material (if measured on earth) assuming its a loosely packed ball of rock, which many asteroids of that size are. That could do a lot of damage if it became uncontrolled.

Can you bag that without it changing shape?
Can the bag and tethers withstand the amount of strain necessary to decelerate it from its current orbit to earth orbit, then to the moon's orbit?
Can the engine last that long?
What happens when (not if) the engine fails?
Would it burn up on entry into earth's atmosphere if the engine failed, or a tether broke?
If you lose control of the package for any reason, where does it end up? In 5 years, in 25 years?

If you, and they are so certain of their calculations and abilities, why not put it in earth orbit as others have suggested?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Informative)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484137)

The asteroid's delta vee relative to Earth would be very low by the time it was approaching the neighborhood. That is strictly implied by the idea of "capturing" it. As such it would present very little more danger to the Earth than Sky Lab did. Not pleasant, but not a dinosaur killer, either.

The Tunguska Event may have been an asteroid with a high delta vee. It may have been something else. It was not an asteroid cozying up slowly to the Earth, the way a captured asteroid would.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Informative)

stjobe (78285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484449)

Perhaps not, but it could still cause a lot of damage

Not really. 7 meters is a *lot* less than 100 meters when we're talking about asteroid impacts. It would break up in the atmosphere.

Here's a more detailed look [ic.ac.uk] at what would happen, I'll highlight the relevant parts:

* Energy before atmospheric entry: 1.63 x 1013 Joules = 0.39 x 10-2 MegaTons TNT
* The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth is 1.9 years
* The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 65500 meters = 215000 ft
* The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 41400 meters = 136000 ft
* No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.
* The air blast at this location [1 km away from the impact point] would not be noticed. (The overpressure is less than 1 Pa).

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481783)

7m as in, 7 meters? At that size, they might as well tow it into synchronous earth orbit. It's far smaller than the ISS at that size.

If it fell on the earth, it wouldn't be much different than a normal meteor.

Or did you mean 7m as an improper unit designator for Miles? (Proper is 'mi', as in 7mi.) A 7 mile asteroid hitting the earth would be catastrophic.

Inquiring minds want to know!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

HawkinsD (267367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481859)

No, they defintely mean 7 meters. 500,000 kg. Which seems like a lot, if it's hitting your house at several miles per second.

But that's only 90,000 kg more than the ISS (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/isstodate.html).

On the other hand, I bet the ISS would burn up a lot better on its way towards your house.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482087)

I think that would depend highly upon the composition of the asteroid they capture.

Being scientists, and only getting big bucks on the table for a one shot deal, I would bet on their choosing as heterogenous of an asteroid as possible, preferably one with clear signs of stratification.

This way portions of the asteroid will be rocky, while others will be more iron based, allowing for the greatest possible dataset to be collected from the expense.

Such an asteroid would almost certainly fragment on re-entry, should it fall from orbit. This means many smaller asteroids, instead of a monolithic 500,000kg bombshell. I would expect most of it to burn up, and for it to rain tiny particles over a large area, with a considerable chance it will hit ocean.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

14erCleaner (745600) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482259)

1. Find 500,000 kilogram solid-gold asteroid
2. Tow into moon orbit for $2.6 billion
3. ...
4. Sell for current market price of $26 billion
5. Profit!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Informative)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482595)

1. Find 500,000 kilogram solid-gold asteroid
2. Tow into moon orbit for $2.6 billion
3. ...
4. Sell for current market price of $26 billion
5. Profit!

4.5. Misunderstand macro-economics and intoduce more supply than could possibly be consumed by the demand and cause a collapse of gold prices as a precious metal.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Kylon99 (2430624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482659)

5. Secretly sell short gold prior to the news of this really getting out.
6. Profit again!

7. Get arrested for benefiting from manipulating markets.
8. Go to jail and write a book.
9. Profit!

Ah, life is ever interesting...

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482755)

4.7 (caveat) promise China the debt owed them will be paid in gold. Paint "Interest Payment" on the asteroid, drop on the mongolian highlands.

A large percentage will burn off in transit, due to gold's low melting point, and it breaking apart from turbulence.

As the price of gold drops like a boulder, ever larger asteroids will need to be "delivered".

Continue until china offers debt amnesty.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483095)

You mean be paid to misunderstand and push agenda

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483277)

4.5. Misunderstand macro-economics and intoduce more supply than could possibly be consumed by the demand and cause a collapse of gold prices as a precious metal.

I'm planning to sell it to aliens, Mr. Smarty Pants. :-P

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483359)

What are immigrants going to do with all that gold? ... I'll stop now. I'm sorry. :(

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483411)

! ) Sell short or 2 ) doesn't matter, gold more valuable as electronics components than money

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483657)

From Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org] "It has been estimated that all the gold mined by the end of 2009 totaled 165,000 tonnes. At a price of US$1900 per troy ounce, reached in September 2011, one tonne of gold has a value of approximately US$61.1 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$10.1 trillion at that valuation."

So the gold asteroid weighs 500 tonnes. That, by the way, is about what the European Central Bank has on hand. By my calculation (don't trust it) that's 0.3 percent of all the gold ever mined. So, if you dumped it, the effect on world prices would indeed be drastic. (Imagine the EUCB selling all its gold.) And that would assume that gold is traded in a free market, which it decidedly is not. The gold market is seriously bent. [nytimes.com] My guess is that makes you doubly right.

You could, however, park your asteroid in a safe place and open a very profitable bank, which would more than pay the bills forever more. As the man said. Profit!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483743)

So the gold asteroid weighs 500 tonnes.

What gold asteroid is this, exactly?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481901)

He probably means 7 meters as in that's what the article says.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481787)

No, we wouldn't. Tunguska was roughly 10m in diameter. Additionally orbiting the moon it's relative speed would be lower, so it'd have less energy if hitting the earth.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483289)

No, we wouldn't. Tunguska was roughly 10m in diameter. Additionally orbiting the moon it's relative speed would be lower, so it'd have less energy if hitting the earth.

Nobody has any real clue exactly how big Tunguska was [crystalinks.com] , because at the time that estimate was done nobody had any clear idea of the composition of asteroids or other rogue rocky bodies. Further, Tunguska is thought to have been an air burst, rather than a single penetrator, and some estimates have it as big as 20 meters. Has it hit any large metropolitan area it would have been the single largest disaster to humans on earth.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481853)

It is actually staggeringly hard to deorbit an asteroid into a planet. Things don't just "fall' towards gravity wells - they orbit them. To actually hit something, you need to remove all the lateral motion relative to the body - which involves a lot of applied delta-V in the right direction of the orbit - for it to actually fall towards the target (+ - whatever you can get away with if you want to just skim the atmosphere).

Without intentionally trying to, we're likely to have hundreds of years warning if an asteroid relocation was going to hit us.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

vell0cet (1055494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482179)

Arguably... things in orbit ARE falling towards the "gravity well". They're just missing the ground.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482363)

They don't fall in the colloquial understanding of it though. Orbit, by and large, isn't some delicate state which will collapse at a moments notice.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Funny)

Opyros (1153335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483907)

Actually, they're flying – under the Arthur Dent definition. (1. Aim yourself at the ground 2. Miss)

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483157)

So the usual Space Nutter paranoia/misunderstanding about tossing asteroids on your enemies is based on ... sci-fi? Space Nutters do seem preoccupied with death and destruction though. Very juvenile.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? All the others? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483843)

Considering how many "new" solar-orbiting bodies are still being discovered, and some of the near-misses of the last few years, can we be certain this project would not inadvertently de-stabilize one of those objects enough to pose significant danger to Earth?

That is a question that needs to be thoroughly addressed (or did they?).

YMMV

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481955)

Waddya talking about? This is a US Government organization doing this. There's nothing to fear here...perfect results and under budget {/sarcasm}

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484211)

it's called math, dumbass. take off your tinfoil hat. they're not going to fuck something like this up.

Deja Vu (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481691)

I feel like I have read this article before. NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station [slashdot.org]

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481699)

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how small the probability for disaster is. If the potential disaster is large enough, then it just shouldn't be done. I'm thinking that this is one of those things.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482267)

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how small the probability for disaster is. If the potential disaster is large enough, then it just shouldn't be done. I'm thinking that this is one of those things.

Hence why it will be in orbit around the moon instead of the Earth.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482407)

Remember last time something was supposed to be put in orbit and imperial units were accidentally used instead of metric? That didn't end well...

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484151)

Yes. It hit the Earth. Oh wait, it was landing on Mars so it hit Mars! That's it!

And your point is?

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (2)

stjobe (78285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484473)

Chicken little.

They're talking about capturing a 7-meter asteroid. Those already impact the earth roughly once every two years. And when I say "impact", I mean "break up in the atmosphere and do little to no damage to things on the ground".

2025 Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481713)

Asteroid Hits Earth, Scientists To Blame

One NASA official was quoted as saying, "Oops!"

In other news, global warming ceases to be a problem as nuclear winter spreads across the globe...

Good. lease do this (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481717)

afterword please bombard Mars.

Re:Good. lease do this (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482055)

That got me thinking about something from 3001 (not that good a read, but still) wherein humans had been dropping comets onto Venus to slow terraform it. I wonder how many we'd have to drop onto Mars to make it a little more liveable there...

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482241)

For mars? Better take archemedes up on his really big lever and fulcrum offer:

Mars has an erratic axial tilt that needs correcting. That needs a big assed moon. A good candidate is Vesta.

Mars is also only about 2/3 the mass of earth. For stable tectonic activity, you need to rain 1/3 of an earth on it.

Then, after cooking, you need to wait for it to cool off. Dropping that much material on mars will heat the crust up to molten temps. (And likely also change the length of year, and length of day.) So, regardless, even starting right now, wouldn't be livable for several millenia, at least.

Bio-engineering venus poses a much less daunting timetable.

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482461)

Thanks. I always did wonder why Clarke picked Venus.

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482631)

Mars is also only about 2/3 the mass of earth

You're off by only 500 percent! But that's space civil engineering precision for you. :-)

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482873)

D'oh!

(Was thinking radius! Stupid human that I am! Mars has a little over 1/2 earth's bulk radius, but only a little over 1/10th its overall mass!)

Well, looks like you would need to rain 9/10ths of an earth on Mars... and wait several hundred thousand years for it to cool.

My bad. Regardless, "it will take a very very long time" is the lesson here.

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483231)

"it will take a very very long time"

well then, lets not do it. becasue you know, it's takes time and is hard~

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483221)

Dropping asteroids on mars gives us material on the surface for building.

Terra forming would require restarted the core.

Now, create a giant umbrella between mars and the sun the blocks certain spectrum while focusing the rest might help with that.
Bio- engineering Venus does not pose a less daunting time table.,. I's just a different set of problem on a different planet.
And we could do both.

Re:Good. lease do this (4, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483643)

Mars already has a large extant of iron and oxygen on its surface. It is why it is red. (Iron III oxide.)

For venus, I could see it dropping to "still bitching hot, but cool enough to work with on the surface with robots" in about 2000 years.

Venus' surface temp is just a few degrees centigrade below the thermal decomposition temperature of aramid plastics. (Related to kevlar and pals.) Venus has a similar overall quantity of nitrogen in its atmosphere as earth does, just diluted by considerable excess of carbon dioxide.

The secret to venus is to sequester the carbon.

Engineering an extremophile atmospheric microbe to colonize the tops of the sulfuric acid cloud layer (were it's a nice, sunny 70F or so, at earth sealevel pressures.) That uses a stable sulfur cycle based derivitive of photosynthesis, that is engineered to produce aramid plastics, would do just that.

Lacking any natural predators, and having a huge petri dish to colonize, with an excess of "food", the little bitches would rapidly "snow" out thermally stable plastic molecules and deplete the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and thereby puncture the thermal equilibrium of the planet.

The issue is the hydrogen scarcity. The microbes would have to be able to produce their own water from their sulfur based respiration cycle from sulfuric acid, excrete sulfur dioxide, and sequester the water inside their cellular membranes. This means they would have to be extraordinarily robust in the face of anhydrous sulfuric acid. That alone is a pretty impressive feat to accomplish with engineered biology. I was thinking that the microbes could use a heavy metal complex with lead to reduce the chemical activity of their cellular membranes, and use of the aramid plastic as internal skeletal structures might work. (One of the interesting features on venus is lead sulfide snow. It volatizes on the surface, then crystalizes in the atmosphere. This makes it a potential raw material for the microbes to use. Lead is very resistant to acidic attack.)

Releasing such microbes on venus would cause a runaway reaction in the atmosphere, transforming venus from a cloudy hot furnace, into a hellish sea of acidic gel oceans, and do so very quickly.

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483809)

How would you change the length of the venusian day, exactly?

Re:Good. lease do this (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483855)

Migration of mass from atmosphere to surface will naturally speed up the period of rotation. By how much, I can't quite say, but it would definately have an effect.

Re:Good. lease do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483941)

haha, that's essentialy mirroring the formation of the earth. it took something on the order of 500 million years to cool...

Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (5, Interesting)

DustinB (220805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481721)

It would be spectacular if movies were made based upon potential Nasa missions and the awesome adventures that would entail. Perhaps that would get through to the masses. Unfortunately these thins are so mind-boggling to our uneducated masses that they don't see the amazing technical feat and engineering this requires, nor the art and wonder of it all. It's beyond their culture of lulz, shopping, and life stress. We love our movies though and they can still help us remember how to dream. I'd love to see a resurgence of sci-fi with an aim at inspiring us to push forward.

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481895)

It would be spectacular if movies were made based upon potential Nasa missions and the awesome adventures that would entail. Perhaps that would get through to the masses. Unfortunately these thins are so mind-boggling to our uneducated masses that they don't see the amazing technical feat and engineering this requires, nor the art and wonder of it all. It's beyond their culture of lulz, shopping, and life stress. We love our movies though and they can still help us remember how to dream. I'd love to see a resurgence of sci-fi with an aim at inspiring us to push forward.

Has it occurred to you that movies are usually 'worst case scenarios" because drama is interesting and things going well isn't dramatic?

Any movie people would go see based on this would either have a monster added or have NASA fuck up the capture somehow in order to put the Earth in danger. Either way I don't think it's going to make the uneducated masses want more asteroid capturing missions.

Take for example how people react to the concept of cloning extinct species in a post Jurassic Park world (in spite of the fact that actual velociraptors wouldn't be any more dangerous than an angry eagle).

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481963)

It would be spectacular if movies were made based upon potential Nasa missions...

If you ignore the part about the monoliths, 2010 is quite good in this respect. Personally, I've always thought that a film set during the Belters' secession from Earth (as in Larry Niven) could make for very interesting sci-fi while still sitting at the 'hard' end of the spectrum.

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (2)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482311)

Haven't you seen NASA's TV channel? I can hardly wait for each episode of "ISS Update".

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482499)

Compare:

Watching paint and glue dry
Vs
This Old House, with Bob Vila.

The first is psychological torture.
The latter is a well syndicated television show.

The difference? The former drags you through monotonously long periods with little stimulation. The latter demonstrates a technique, and conveniently fastfowards through the monotony to the finish.

"ISS Update" is watching paint dry.

A documentary on ISS's construction and previous mission experiments without all the anguish is entertainment.

Take this as an idea:

You create a television series about colonizing mars. No monsters. No aliens. Instead, you introduce drama from a natural source: the colonists.

You would be stuffing a minimum of 500 people into a tincan, in low gravity conditions, and close quarters for 6 months. If you can't find drama in that, you aren't trying very hard.

If it makes syndication, you can continue the series with their arrival at the colony site, and throw in geopolitics with earth.

It could be done very nicely.

30 minutes of watching some slob stare out a window? More accurate, but far less entertaining.

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483263)

Speak for your self.

And if it isn't successful they drift off to their death?

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483765)

Nope. :D. Far more diskish.

They arrive on Mars safely, only to discover that the robotically built habitats they were to immediately move into, have been burried under several meters of martian regolith, and are inaccessible.

Do it as a season ending cliffhanger.

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

mill3d (1647417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483597)

I certainly wish that was the case. A lot of Sci-Fi masterpieces (Kubrik, Star Trek, Tron...) have encouraged me to care and learn more about science and can't say how proud I am of what human ingenuity can achieve.

However, to my great dismay I've noticed that a love sci-fi requires both a good imagination and a decent education ; which often come as a pair but are hardly a standard feature of the majority of peoples' lives. If it weren't for all the dick waving contests, I'm sure we'd be much further along by now and all that needs to be done is to fix education (I have high hopes for web-based schooling). Better education leads to better cultural advancement and overall human progress.

--
Nothing is enough for whom enough is too little - Confucius

Re:Use film to inspire scientific dreaming (1)

DustinB (220805) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484049)

I agree with everything you said... education is key. Growing up in a small football town with terrible education my parents were early internet adopters and gave me full access to it. It utterly opened my eyes to a bigger more amazing world beyond small-town football and religion. I hope to see amazing changes with information access and specifically web-based schooling to provide quality education independent of geography, local funding, etc.

What could possibly go wrong? (2)

sam_vilain (33533) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481759)

For those musing, here's a Asteroid Impact Effect Calculator [purdue.edu] . Should be quite a bang :-)

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Informative)

Spiridios (2406474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482331)

For those musing, here's a Asteroid Impact Effect Calculator [purdue.edu] . Should be quite a bang :-)

Well, not quite knowing what density to use, I plugged in the 7m from TFA and chose porous object as a WAG at carbonaceous and left everything else at default and got this:

The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth is 1.9 years

I need to get out more if we have "quite a bang" every 1.9 years.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484073)

That crater calculator is bullshit. I threw the sun at the earth at 90deg, 72km/s and still couldn't get a crater deeper than 25.3km (albeit 478Mm across).

Also, I think the graphic for the global damages button is bugged; despite total planetary vaporization it still shows as "Day change: not significant."

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483905)

It'd be cooler if it visually simulated an asteroid of a user-entered size hitting the earth, and showing the impact visually instead of always using stock cgi footage of an asteroid entering the atmosphere and then just showing the raw data.

LOL (4, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481843)

"using ion propulsion and a really big bag" It'll be worth every penny for the your momma jokes alone.

Copyright the Story (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481871)

NASA should copyright the story leading up to, including, and after the lassoing. They could then sell the stories to the film industry and merchandise like crazy to recoup some of the costs. To add a bit of color, they should recruit astronauts with dark pasts, a drinking problem, or who are Elmo.

Re:Copyright the Story (2)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484401)

... they should recruit astronauts with dark pasts, a drinking problem, or who are Elmo.

But you repeat yourself...

And bomb Klendathu afterwards ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481903)

I think the bugs will not be pleased :)

do the math yourself (1)

tatman (1076111) | about a year and a half ago | (#42481927)

ImpactEffects [ic.ac.uk]

Re:do the math yourself (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482771)

For those who don't want to take the time to put in the numbers. No crater would be formed should it hit the earth although maybe some small chunks might land. If it hit the oceans nothing would happen. Something this size (7 meters) hits the earth every 2 years or so.

My question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42481941)

...What about the effect on global warming?

ma8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482039)

Lesson and very Sick and its fucking market Parties, but here Kreskin

Dream team (2)

phrostie (121428) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482069)

points to sky

Billy: You see those two rocks? Asteroids. I was an engineer working on them. First they just wanted to put one but I said, "Fellas, we're here. What the hell, throw the other one up". Turned out pretty well, didn't it?
Henry: Fantasy.

It not about the crash but the climate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482099)

My main concern is about the weather changing because of the new mass moving the oceans.

place it in one of the lagrangian points (3, Interesting)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482129)

Earth–Moon L1 I mean.

Re:place it in one of the lagrangian points (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482683)

Why?

Already has a moon (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482375)

Some would say that the Earth is our moon. But that would belittle the name of our moon, which is: The Moon.

Re:Already has a moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482489)

Some would say that the Earth is our moon.

And they would be wrong... or our new Lunar overlords.

Dupe? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482459)

Didn't we have this story a week or so ago? Then NASA wasn't actually commenting on the plan... Is the news now that they actually are considering the plan? Or is it that we're talking ion thruster now rather than Atlas-v?

FTFOA: [slashdot.org]

According to a report prepared by NASA and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists, an, 'asteroid capture capsule' would be attached to an old Atlas V rocket and directed towards the asteroid between the earth and the moon. Once close, the asteroid capsule would release a 50ft diameter bag that would wrap around the spinning rock using drawstrings. The craft would then turn on its thrusters, using an estimated 300kg of propellant, to stop the asteroid in its tracks and tow it into a gravitationally neutral spot. From here space explorers would have a stationary base from which to launch trips deeper into space. Though NASA declined to comment on the project, it is believed that technology would make it possible within 10-12 years.

Nerds that don't remember their news are doomed to repeat the stuff that matters.

Already named our pet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482497)

We can call the asteroid "Wormwood"!

"considering" doesn't mean much (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482511)

"..NASA is mulling over their plan to..."

At NASA, we do a lot of looking at plans, ideas, proposals.. just because someone is looking at it doesn't mean much. Some group comes up with some idea, writes a report, sends it in. Then, someone at NASA finds some people to review it and comment on it. The original report and the comments wind up in some document repository or another. Perhaps some feedback to the original team. Inevitably, someone writes a paper and presents it at some conference.

Many, many years later, it might come up in the decadal survey as a potential mission. Those decadal surveys, as the name implies, happen every 10 years, and it's one of the big drivers for NASA's exploration plans. If it's not recommended by the survey, it's unlikely to happen.

http://sites.nationalacademies.org/ssb/currentprojects/ssb_056864 is an example...

Bargin (4, Interesting)

DarthBling (1733038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482571)

For only $2.6 billion, sounds like a bargain to me. For some perspective, here's what else $2.6 billion can buy or is equivalent to:

- F22 Raptor
- About one day of War on Terror
- 60% of the money spent during the 2013 Presidential campaign.
- The Mars Science Laboratory
- Total worldwide box office revenue for Avatar

Re:Bargin (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483563)

- Total worldwide box office revenue for Avatar

Maybe we could ask James Cameron. Hum. Wait a minute. He is already taking part in a similar project http://www.planetaryresources.com/team/ [planetaryresources.com]

Re:Bargin (1)

dentin (2175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483987)

It could also buy us a very large chunk of the SENS research plan to make people immortal.

And the weather? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42482577)

It will change the oceans attraction and the climate! Scary...

As a diver... (1)

RLU486983 (1792220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482687)

I'm not too crazy about this. How will it impact the tides and other ocean functionality. This doesn't sound like a very good idea.

Re:As a diver... (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482949)

As a fellow diver who understands physics, none at all.

Re:As a diver... (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482957)

Consider newton's law of universal gravitation.

The effect applied is equivalent to the gravitational constant, multiplied against the product of the two gravitating masses, divided by the square of the distance between them.

Eg, waaaaaaaaaay out at the moon's lagrange point, and weighing in at a paltry 500,000kilos... that rock isn't going to do much.

It wouldn't even displace a single millimeter of ocean water at that distance.

Re:As a diver... (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483311)

Are you..serious? are you SERIOUSLY concerted about the tide being impacted by a 7m object orbiting the moon?

It's amazing you live through any dives.

Re:As a diver... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483959)

It will change the tides about as much as driving your car from your house to the seashore does.

Only a small one (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42482937)

I don't really see the point of astronauts visiting a rock that's smaller than they are. This is a waste of resources, there are plenty of small asteroids that come to Earth by themselves, why not study them?

NASA are bureaucrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483093)

I hate to say this but NASA is full of bureaucrats -- they are not the brightest lights on the block. At a conference in 1985 I met alot of NASA engineers and the brightest ones where hired by NASA but wanted to get a job in the contractors within 1-2 years. I was told NASA was brain dead. So why would we trust them to do this right? -- hey bureaucrats keep on building on the debt.

Why not establish a moon base first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42483717)

I read all these plans to send men to Mars or lasso asteroids, but we can't even get back to the moon.

It's like they delibrately suggest missions that can't be accomplished for decades. Sometimes I think it's because they're afraid of something going wrong and they'll get blamed, but if they chose a mission that nobody expects results for 30 or 40 years, they can spend all their time till retirement just planning and not building anything.

Yo Dog... (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year and a half ago | (#42483777)

I heard you like Moons.

Why not make it orbit Earth? (1)

ark1 (873448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484105)

So why not have it orbit Earth? Is it the risk of crashing on Earth or into other orbiting space objects or is there some other explanation?

Re:Why not make it orbit Earth? (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484455)

If it was orbiting Earth; could it orbit low enough to attract all of the space junk? Is there a way to use an orbiting asteroid as a platform for a massive cleanup operation in space?

Home made asteroids are cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42484157)

Not my idea. I saw a bit of the new movie version "The Time Machine". You just need to tell everyone that you are going to nuke the Moon, then nuke it and, voilà! Lots of asteroids to have fun with.

Experience! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42484403)

Maybe the dinosaurs could give us some tips. They tried the same thing about 65 million years ago. Hey, I haven't seen them in a while...

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