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Can NASA, Air Force, and Private Industry Really Mitigate an Asteroid Threat?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the activate-mr.-willis dept.

Space 151

coondoggie writes "There has been much chatter about the threat of an asteroid or significant meteor strike on Earth — mostly caused by the untracked meteor that blasted its way to international attention when it exploded in the sky above Russia injuring nearly 1,200 people in February. It was one of those amazing coincidences that on that same day an asteroid NASA had been tracking for months — asteroid 2012 DA14 — was to harmlessly cross Earth's path. Those events and the topic of mitigating asteroid and meteor or Near Earth Object threats to Earth prompted a couple congressional hearings by the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the latest of which was held this week. None of the NEOs found to date have more than a tiny chance of hitting Earth in the next century. Thus the near-term risk of an unwarned impact from large asteroids, and hence the majority of the risk from all NEOs, has been reduced by more than 90%. Assuming none are found to be an impact threat, discovering 90% of the 140 meter sized objects will further reduce the total risk to the 99% level. By finding these objects early enough and tracking their motions over the next 100 years, even those rare objects that might be found threatening could be deflected using existing technologies."

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151 comments

The long-period comet problem (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43428641)

This year comet Siding Spring was discovered that may hit Mars at over 200000 mph next year. If that was headed for Earth there is nothing we could do except have an extinction party.

Re:The long-period comet problem (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#43428671)

Sure, it's possible that nothing can be done about something that size.

On the other hand, while we haven't managed to deal with protecting the occupants of automobiles when they plunge off cliffs, we have managed to either protect occupants or reduce their injuries with other fairly simple technologies that have dramatically reduced casualty numbers.

We've had two significant events in about 100 years. I think that it's a good idea to both improve detection and to figure out how to nudge or deflect asteroids. The further out we know of their paths the less costly it is to deflect them.

Re:The long-period comet problem (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43428697)

I agree that we should do as much as we can about the asteroid problem. Ultimately though the only cure for the long period comet problem is "don't keep all your humans on the same planet."

Re:The long-period comet problem (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43428743)

Personally, I think flying sharks with lasers is a more viable option than most people give it credit for.

Re:The long-period comet problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428821)

Personally, I think you're a dumb fucking cunt and Medusa should fuck you up for being so fucking retarded.

Re:The long-period comet problem (3, Funny)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430505)

Medusa

you just bent over and dropped your pants there didn't you sunshine

Re:The long-period comet problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430389)

I think the "flying sharks with lasers" thing has jumped the shark.

Re:The long-period comet problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430483)

We had something almost as awesome 65 million years ago and look what happened.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430507)

the sharks evolved without lasers?

Re:The long-period comet problem (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43428827)

We've had two significant events in about 100 years.

The Tunguska event had one fatality, the Chelyabinsk event had none. That's a total of one for 100 years all across the globe, at least Wikipedia couldn't list any other deaths either. More people have probably died from ingrown toenails. In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes with over 100,000 casualties each. Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none so is there really a big intersection between what is possible and what is worth doing? If you actually had warning and send people to cellars and bomb shelters we should be able to take considerably bigger impacts with no to minimal casualties. You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428973)

We've had two significant events in about 100 years.

The Tunguska event had one fatality, the Chelyabinsk event had none. That's a total of one for 100 years all across the globe, at least Wikipedia couldn't list any other deaths either. More people have probably died from ingrown toenails. In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes with over 100,000 casualties each. Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none so is there really a big intersection between what is possible and what is worth doing? If you actually had warning and send people to cellars and bomb shelters we should be able to take considerably bigger impacts with no to minimal casualties. You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

Re:The long-period comet problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429021)

There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

But don't let that stop you from trying! -- Vault-Tec

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43429145)

There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

That "small margin" is a few orders of magnitude, both in size and in likelihood.

Re:The long-period comet problem (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429185)

You apparently only paid attention to undergrad business class. Risk = probability * consequence. However, if consequence is total destruction of mankind, then that definition of risk doesn't work well.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43429277)

That depends on how much cost you assign to total destruction. There's no reason to make it infinite. It becomes a broken Pascal's wager problem then.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

terjeber (856226) | about a year ago | (#43430503)

That depends on how much cost you assign to total destruction. There's no reason to make it infinite

Why? From a human (or mammal for that matter) perspective it is. Given the fact that, discovered early enough, deflecting big asteroids is bordering on trivial and actually very, very, very cheap (a few hundred million dollars) - not investing in this is not bordering on, but actually well past the border of insane.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43430867)

From a human (or mammal for that matter) perspective it is.

No. And for the reasons you demonstrate.

not investing in this is not bordering on, but actually well past the border of insane.

Why? We have other things we can be investing in. Consider this. Suppose such an asteroid comes on average once every 50 million years. If instead of spending that money on asteroid detection and deflection technologies now, we invested it - just invested it.

Then we could have colonized a good portion of galaxy in the expected time before we get hit with such an asteroid. That in turn would provide far better insurance than maintaining some sort of asteroid deflection scheme now.

Re:The long-period comet problem (2)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#43430989)

colonize galaxy - with warp drive I suppose? Yes we can invest money in anything instead of building f35 but even this silly project has some benefits for humanity in that it increases our knowledge about things. Now I can imagine investing in asteroid detection and analysis of deflection capability is doing something good for our science and engineering. I think it is better than giving money to the banks that are too big too fail.

And as for risk analysis - once you add the wight to the odds you will see that it is not that simple. a rare event killing all londoners is worthwhile investing some billions into it even if it is all only monitoring or is it? Then this lesser argument about Tunguska event with one fatality - you care to compare the difference in population density of Siberia back then and now? Even better yet - do you think all these stones coming from the sky always chose Siberia for its landing zone?

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430527)

1 death / 100 years / 7.078 billion = very small probability of extinction level event

but who actually pays any attention to statistics and probability?

Re:The long-period comet problem (3, Insightful)

Pikoro (844299) | about a year ago | (#43430617)

I'll give you 3 to 1 odds that 6 out of 10 people probably don't care about statistics ;)

Re:The long-period comet problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430821)

Your reasoning is faulty. We already know extinction level events are very low probability or we wouldnt be having this discussion. We also know they can and have happened.

You can't estimate the likelihood of this rare event by measuring how many people die in relatively common smaller events over a tiny window of time.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#43430999)

Yes some of us do. You add the weight of the event like direct hit to any major metropolitan area and funny things start to happen to your risk analysis.

Re:The long-period comet problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428979)

You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

Well, yes. The problem is that the chances of all of us being killed by an asteroid is far, far bigger than extinction by lightning.

Re:The long-period comet problem (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43428987)

"You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid."

That's what the teacher was saying to her class of juvenile stegosaurus, when the big one hit.

Re:The long-period comet problem (4, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#43430557)

Stegosaurus died out 150 million years ago, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event was 66 million years ago. Choose a dinosaur from the Cretaceous period, such as T-rex, Velociraptor, Triceratops or Pterosaur for your example, not one from the Late Jurassic.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430885)

While likely technically correct, now you've ruined all the fun...

Re:The long-period comet problem (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a year ago | (#43430395)

The Tunguska event [wikipedia.org] created an explosion 1000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the meteor was smaller than 140m, estimated at 100m. That was over 100 years ago, Earth is a bit more populated now and a hit like that could easily wipe a large city of millions out.

Re:The long-period comet problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430523)

Obviously there are about three places where such a thing could hit: eiffel tower, white house or statue of liberty. I mean, what on earth could be more likely? Water? Siberia? pfftt..

Re:The long-period comet problem (2)

terjeber (856226) | about a year ago | (#43430485)

In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes

The probability of something happening in the future is (in these cases) not related to the historical record.

Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none

If we discover a dino killer in a reasonable time frame prior to impact, chances of deflecting it is equal to our desire to actually invest enough money (perhaps a few hundre million dollars at worst) to actually deflect it. Actually deflecting an asteroid isn't particularly hard if we know where it is an when it is going to hit.

You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid

Statistically that's not really true. If a dino killer comes along, and they do with some regularity, then somewhere in the 6 to 10 billion range of people would die, depending on the time of impact. Since the fatality rate will be staggering, chances of any single human dying by asteroid impact at any random day in the timespan from now and until that impact could be rather high.

Even for non-dino killers, it looks like there is about a 30% chance of a city killer hitting us within 100 years. If it hits an actual city of some size, or near by, or in the ocean not too far away from a big city, death toll could reach the upper single digit millions or more. Again, significantly increasing the chance of a random person getting killed by an asteroid to levels well above lightening strikes.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#43430683)

Then there's the problem that mass extinctions happen far too regularly (roughly every 56 million years) to be caused by something as random as an asteroid impact. Probably has more to do with Galactic Orbital Dynamics but at least it's easier to predict (Approx 50 million years from now). Now can we get back to flaming trolls :)

Re:The long-period comet problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430691)

Actually, we have the technology to deflect large asteroids right now. The trick is early detection. If we can spot an earthbound asteroid ten years before it's going to hit, we could definitely move it out of the way in time, either with thruster packs or an impactor.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#43429985)

Well, the detection is the biggest issue. We know this because the day we were tracking a close call, we had a strike that nobody saw coming (or at least they never told anyone about it, perhaps because of being helpless to stop it).

We have to remember, that while a large comet or asteroid strike would cause extinction, so would a hefty rain of smaller space rock. a 5000 ton rock we can detect or 10 50 ton rocks we can't both have a pretty similar chance of causing us to kiss our asses goodbye.

Re:The long-period comet problem (3, Interesting)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43430451)

Sir Arthur Clarke proposed detonating a large nuclear device in space, to light up asteroids with the radio burst.

Re:The long-period comet problem (2)

ClintJCL (264898) | about a year ago | (#43428765)

You don't think we could convert the whole global economy into a factory that mass-produces ships that go on suicide-nuke missions? If the rich realize they have no choice but to employ everyone on the planet to save their own sorry asses, we could all be put to work. How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

Re:The long-period comet problem (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428831)

How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

Depends on how high it's been modded.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430531)

just need one BFG

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430535)

either that or a death star

Re:The long-period comet problem (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43428983)

You don't think we could convert the whole global economy into a factory that mass-produces ships that go on suicide-nuke missions? If the rich realize they have no choice but to employ everyone on the planet to save their own sorry asses, we could all be put to work. How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about a year ago | (#43428993)

Just do the convincing 75 years from now... It'll be easier to do then, too.

Re:The long-period comet problem (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#43429135)

Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

Convincing the public to spend the money isn't the problem. The US congress, however, is. Just 39 years ago congress so wanted more control over the budget they passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and easily passed it because Nixon was tied up with the Watergate scandal. Fast forward to now and the senate has just recently passed its first budget in four years. But I'm sure it will die in the house, if it even gets that far. If these fucker can't even do something so basic as pass a yearly budget, there is little hope of them looking ahead far enough to worry about anything 150 years in the future. After all, their constituents will be long dead. China is fast becoming a better hope for something like this. At least they still have goals that stretch past the next election cycle.

Just do the convincing 75 years from now... It'll be easier to do then, too.

There's the problem with the public. Keeping their attention for such a project in today's sound bite, two minute news clip attention span. The MBA's would get involved and it would all come down to the quarterly returns and then we're screwed.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#43431019)

so maybe instead of deflecting a big rock out of our way you should deflect properly sized one into congress when the said fuckers are in the house? I suppose I am no officially on the list of forbidden guests into US as an evil terrorist....

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

terjeber (856226) | about a year ago | (#43430543)

Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

No need to spend trillions. Not even billions. Deflection isn't expensive, it would have a lower budget than the air-conditioning budget of the second Iraq war. That's the insanity of the current situation. This is easy. It is cheap. It can be done with current technologies. We're not doing it.

Government is broken, thankfully we have Ed Lu and the B612 foundation [b612foundation.org] .

The more probable cause of extinction on Earth (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year ago | (#43428879)

Instead of a comet hitting planet Earth and wipe out all lifeforms, a more probable scenario is ...

A unknown / undiscovered chunk of meteor hit Earth and explode

The explosion was huge and everyone thought that it was a nuclear strike

And, before we know, everyone and anyone with any nuclear capability will send their bombs flying, everywhere

Re:The more probable cause of extinction on Earth (2)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#43428967)

No. At least the US wouldn't react that way. Why? Because NORAD tracks all kinds of things and the profile of a meteor looks nothing like a missile. The missile comes in a parabolic arc at less than escape velocity. The meteor comes in much faster, on a straight line. When you extrapolate back the trajectory you get space, not Russia.

I assume the Russians and Chinese have similar tracking capability. We also know from experience that even if the Russian systems send a false positive, their commanders have the guts to say nyet. That happened during the Cold War.

Rogue nations like North Korea? That's a different story; but they don't have enough bombs to end civilization.

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

able1234au (995975) | about a year ago | (#43430369)

If it heads for the earth then at least it will be convenient for mining :)

Re:The long-period comet problem (1)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#43430633)

From Wikipedia:

The comet is not expected to create a spectacular meteor shower on Mars or be a threat to the spacecraft in orbit or on the ground. The comet will have to be extremely close to Mars for its debris to pose any real risk. Millimeter-sized grains will be ejected at about 1 m/s (2 mph), and would take more than a year to travel 100,000 km from the comet.[7]

And further down in the same article:

As of April 2013, the odds of a Mars impact are about 1 in 8000.[13] The 8 April 2013 JPL 3-sigma solution is the first solution to show that the minimum approach by the comet will miss Mars.[2]

Also from the same article is estimated size does not put this at a extinction level event anyway. A big event to be sure. But we are going to be a little bit harder to knock of than that.

hypothesis (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43428657)

Big meteors only explode over Russia, if I'm extrapolating correctly from n=2. Therefore they should pay for it.

Re:hypothesis (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year ago | (#43428999)

Oh my goodness, a chance to actualy use a In Soviet Russia joke appropriately!!

In Soviet Russia, Meteor Finds YOU!

Re:hypothesis (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429269)

...except that neither the Tunguska meteor nor the Chelyabinsk meteor came down during a time when Russia was, in fact, soviet.

The metor didn't injure anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428669)

It caused injuries but didn't directly injure anyone.

The Real Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43428675)

It's the ones that find *you*.

Yes, it's pretty straight forward too (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#43428727)

When there's an incoming asteroid, use a rocket to place a USB stick on it loaded with copyrighted material.

Within 2 hours, it's trajectory will be altered by the mass of the layers and federal agents swarming it.

Re:Yes, it's pretty straight forward too (3, Funny)

kaychoro (1340087) | about a year ago | (#43429373)

They've already tried this... that's why the meteors always hit Russia... that's where copyrighted material always ends up.

Easy solution (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43428745)

Just paint stars and stripes on it and North Kimmy will take it out for free.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

DoomSprinkles (1933266) | about a year ago | (#43428755)

...comets try to mitigate the Earth threat.

Can they stop it? (2)

zm (257549) | about a year ago | (#43428841)

Unlikely.. but they will gladly make the public believe that something must be done, and then spend a whole lot of money doing something. See also: TSA.

Re:Can they stop it? (1)

John Marter (3227) | about a year ago | (#43428881)

If they can stop it, I think there is a greater risk that they will create a problem before there is an opportunity to solve a problem.

better hypothesis... (5, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about a year ago | (#43428847)

Most species becomes space faring, the smart ones like Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal leave as soon as they can. The reason we don't hear from anyone else is because they put up warning signs.
You don't need fancy theories to explain why every other object in the universe is fleeing from us.

Re:better hypothesis... (1)

Reality Man (2890429) | about a year ago | (#43428883)

Yes, that must be it. Woooo OOOOO ooooohhhhh.....

Re:better hypothesis... (1)

styrotech (136124) | about a year ago | (#43429969)

Most species becomes space faring, the smart ones like Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal leave as soon as they can.

According to Wikipedia the Cro Mags are still around [wikipedia.org] .

Seriously though: aren't we actually the same species anyway?

Re:better hypothesis... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43430407)

Seriously though: aren't we actually the same species anyway?

They didn't buy that down at Monkey World and they're not going to buy it here.

Stupid sexy monkeys...

It injured 1200 people (0)

Reality Man (2890429) | about a year ago | (#43428873)

We don't even do anything about stopping wars which *kill* people. Get over it, nerds, there ain't no combination of real, possible technologies and energy sources that will do what you want it to do. Even if it did, no one cares. People die driving, do we make perfect cars? Nope. People die in plane crashes, do we make perfect planes?

Because we can't anyways. The risks of these meteor strikes are so remote, so laughable that no one cares.

Do you put titanium plates on your home's roof?

Then why are you asking the human race to do it?

No. (1)

dumuzi (1497471) | about a year ago | (#43428925)

No.

Re:No. (2)

edibobb (113989) | about a year ago | (#43429015)

Hey, that's what I was going to say!

Why not mitigate a real threat, like public ignorance?

Re:No. (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43429195)

No.

Correct. In details:
* NASA - interested in cosmic objects farther away - the minimal distance Mars (Moon is sooo 1960-ish it's no longer "space")
* Air Force - busy dealing with fiscal cliffs and sequesters when they aren't pulling their hair over the F-35 project
* Private industry - there's no profit to be made nor tax exemption opportunities. Even more, the ones that would have the budget to attempt something like this are multinationals - the risk of being affected are much lower than the potential profit they'd make would an asteroid actually strike

Who needs an asteroid? (1, Offtopic)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43429023)

Who needs an asteroid to destroy the ecosystem that allows human life as we know it? Our greenhouse gas emission are doing the job fine, and we seem unable to prepare a plan against that threat. Most of the effort is spent arguing with industry-raised deniers.

This is why there is no risk with an asteroid impact : nobody is making money on it, therefore we will be able to defend against it without first wasting years arguing whether the asteroid is real or if its impact would be really harmful

Re:Who needs an asteroid? (1)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#43430655)

Way to exaggerate beyond all reason.

Even worst case we are going to shift the current equilibrium a little. Earth will remain a very hospitable planet well beyond a little AGW and will be so close to life as we know, that well it will be life as we know it. Almost all ecosystem destruction to this day is habitat removal. Not AGW. But that is far cry from ecosystem removal. Since new ecosystems replace the old.

They could. But is it worth paying the cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429115)

Consider the risks of an asteroid strike, consider the possible harm, consider the costs, and you wonder if it'd be worthwhile.

Like sealing your car so you won't drown if you go underwater. Worth doing? Probably not for most people. Heck, most people don't even have a snorkle on their vehicle. (The only one I've ever seen one on was a pristine Land Rover, which goes to show you something...)

It's all about threat mitigation on the outside (3)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year ago | (#43429143)

The real motivation is to mine the asteroid for rare earth minerals.

Doing it this way they won't have to pay anyone for the minerals,
and if they do it right they can get you and I to pay for the trip......

What asteroid? (2)

nanospook (521118) | about a year ago | (#43429181)

I'm more worried about a Korean threat!

The one way to guarantee a strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429201)

Is to have the capability to alter their trajectories

(And little radiation to deal with afterwards)

Re:The one way to guarantee a strike (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43430441)

Probably easier to use a mass driver from the moon.

Capturing Asteroids (2)

nanospook (521118) | about a year ago | (#43429203)

One of the side thoughts I had about this was military applications. If we can capture asteriods or chunks of rocks, can we drop them into orbit to land on a city? A non-nuclear threat? I was of course thinking of the book "The moon is a harsh mistress".. Otherwise, why is NASA so interested in the topic?

Ride a comet like in Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429283)

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee---hawwwwwwwwwwwwwh!!!

what "threat"? (3, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43429423)

There have been no serious asteroid impacts in millennia, if not millions of years. That tells you that these events are extremely rare, and calling them a "threat" is just not justified.

If anything, space travel and the ability to steer asteroids raises the risk that humans will try to steer asteroids towards earth and use them as gigantic kinetic bombs (fortunately, very slow moving).

The blind leading the blind. (5, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43429463)

Hello morons. NASA didn't know about the rock that exploded over Russia until it was too late. None of these bastards can be trusted when they start gibbering on about risks. The truth is THEY ARE FUCKING BLIND. A mole has a better time finding its way in broad daylight than we do seeing crap in space.

They give us highly detailed pictures of very small parts of the night sky. Great. Awesome in fact. However, we actually DON'T have the kind of wide scale whole sky studying system required to make ANY reliable risk assessments -- Based on... What?! The TINY patches of sky we have studied with great detail, and some other images from murky underfunded telescopes -- Which didn't even detect that we had A DAMN DWARF PLANET called Eris (more massive than Pluto) orbiting our Sun until Just 8 years ago -- they're making risk predictions? Don't make me laugh. Seriously. That's why Pluto's not a planet. If it were we'd have to own up to the fact that there was another PLANET there all along and we didn't see it.... Grr.

THINK people. The geologic record shows we're over due for a mass extinction event. Might not be an asteroid, maybe gamma burst or volcanic eruption, etc. The point is that we really don't have much of any information at all in any of these respects -- Not the kind we'd need to kick back and rest on our laurels like dinosaurs proclaiming, "Yeah, a few little rocks fell, but no harm really, the sky's not falling..." Right before the sky did fall right on their big ignorant heads.

I'm not saying we should panic. I'm saying we need to make a concious decision as a race to not become extinct -- To not let our light go out of the Universe just because of greed. We need to swap the budgets of the armed forces and the space programs until this shit is sorted. Once we have more space infrastructure to ensure we're not going to be extincted by the next big rock, THEN we can worry about fighting over petty shit on this planet. All our eggs are in one basket here on Earth. That's moronic. We NEED a self sustaining off-world colony of humans just to ensure the survival of our species. Until we have at least that, then YES, we are in SUPREME DANGER of becoming extinct; In fact, it's a 1:1 probability that our extinction will occur at present.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled not giving a damn about anything beyond your own lifespan. Screw you humans. You'll get yours.

This IS a mass extinction event (4, Informative)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | about a year ago | (#43429609)

We're already in a mass extinction event. We're wiping out species at a pace that, in a geological-time sense, is indistinguishable from a big asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption.

And yes, humans are moronic. The kind of investment in humanity's immortality probably won't be made until someone has conquered the entire planet and subjugated the people to such an extent that he doesn't need a huge military budget--and then the effort will be made only if that is the world leader's whim, instead of, say, constructing monuments to himself.

--PM

Re:This IS a mass extinction event (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430337)

http://www.sens.org/

I'll just leave this here...

Re:This IS a mass extinction event (0)

terjeber (856226) | about a year ago | (#43430555)

We're wiping out species at a pace that, in a geological-time sense, is indistinguishable from a big asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption

Rubbish.

Re:This IS a mass extinction event (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43431009)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction

Re:This IS a mass extinction event (3, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year ago | (#43430701)

Considering dear mother nature has already wiped out over 99% of all species that's existed, I don't think we should put all the weight on ourselves.

And we're very arguably evolution's finest production to date with our advanced thought, art, music and vision. Not all life is equal.

Re:This IS a mass extinction event (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year ago | (#43430879)

We're already in a mass extinction event. We're wiping out species at a pace that, in a geological-time sense, is indistinguishable from a big asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption.

And yes, humans are moronic. The kind of investment in humanity's immortality probably won't be made until someone has conquered the entire planet and subjugated the people to such an extent that he doesn't need a huge military budget--and then the effort will be made only if that is the world leader's whim, instead of, say, constructing monuments to himself.

--PM

Or perhaps the more palatable alternative, a situation where the economic model actually reflects the actual resources of the planet and allow us to plan accordingly, as opposed to the 'fairy money' situation that we all accept as the norm at the moment.

Re:The blind leading the blind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429649)

Fuck you just hit the fucking nail on the fucking head. Don't know why more people don't see this. Maybe because like you said they are a bunch of moronic faggots. I'm just saying you should be modded the fuck up.

Let's stop worrying about war, climate change, etc. Seriously fuck war, and fuck protecting the fucking planet. Let's find a way to get off this bitch ass planet before she kill us.

-You can burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky away from me.

Re:The blind leading the blind. (1)

styrotech (136124) | about a year ago | (#43430037)

What's the problem with humans going extinct in cataclysmic astronomical event? Who exactly is going care? We certainly won't - we're all dead remember.

Re:The blind leading the blind. (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43430319)

Right before the sky did fall right on their big ignorant heads

You can insight hated, troll to your hearts content, insult humanity, hope for our blissful destruction, deride every person on this planet, predict world ending events and judge blind people all you want, but I draw the line at insulting dinosaurs .. that aint right!

Re:The blind leading the blind. (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year ago | (#43430583)

I think you're preaching to the choir here on Slashdot. I think lots of us think think that way. Swapping the military budget with a space budget is not just desirable in a human-species-saving kinda way, but also just immensely exciting in and of itself. That's why I think so much of people like Elon Musk who are researching things like reusable rockets and fusion rockets [slashdot.org] .

I'm not sure the rock over Russia was a big enough wake up call. I hope it is, but fear that a larger (bot not extinction-level) asteroid/comet will be needed to get people to start beginning to care. Sad huh?

Re:The blind leading the blind. (1)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#43431033)

not sure if that is sad - it is just our human condition - it is in a bad condition so to say....

Re:The blind leading the blind. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#43430609)

"Screw you humans. You'll get yours."

Um, unless you're outing yourself as a member of a different species, you're also in the audience that you address, no?

But you're right. Recently was news of an augmented sky survey group for the Southern Hemisphere, so at least we have a few people looking, both amateur and pro. IIRC NASA in conjunction with others have an effort going and set up an infos clearinghouse. (too lazy now to look it up) Better than nothing so far. Enough? I'm WAGging insufficient data. [splat]

Speaking truth to power works so well, yes? And speaking truth to apathy works even better.

"Ay, hand me a beer, ay? Who's playing tonight? How 'bout them Mets? [Braaaap]"

Re:The blind leading the blind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430811)

You my friend should seek solace in the words of god. His mighty shield shall forever protect us!

Not sure how they modeled the event. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429721)

. . ., the event being a catastrophic meteor strike, but I suspect that the distribution for the event follows some sort of large tail distribution. That is to say that as you get further and further in your standard deviations from the mean, the likelihood of the event occurring does not shrink so much that it can be practically disregarded.

Ie4?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43429761)

result of a quarrel time wholesome and progress. In 1192, OF AMERICA) TODAY, go find something prima donnas, and DELIVER. SOME OF

I just heard about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430183)

The actual private industry mentioned is B612 Foundation (b612foundation.org). I believe they already have started building the satellite they plan to use to map the asteroids.

Only one of these, if at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430219)

Nasa? Not without funding

USAF? Quite possibly if you're lucky with the right people and cooperate with NASA

Private industry? HAHAHAHAHAAA! Why would they EVER want to do anything like that? Where in the last 50 years have you seen private industry not trying to socialize costs and internalize profits?

Wish for a city to be destroyed by a meteor (1, Insightful)

BlueCoder (223005) | about a year ago | (#43430287)

I think if the United States was hit with couple game changer meteors NASA would have no problem with funding.

Re:Wish for a city to be destroyed by a meteor (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#43430371)

I think if the United States was hit with couple game changer meteors NASA would have no problem with funding.

Unless it's Detroit, noone would notice.

B612 Foundation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430393)

The other agency is the B612 Foundation. b612foundation.org.

If not...then I'd like to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43430525)

I'd like to have been smoking the best medical cannabis possible while watching their attempts at this, and yet I still have to wonder... are they smoking better shit than I am, or maybe they are just drunk? I mean what possible reason would I want to release the hug I have on my girlfriend's breasts, just to do fod walking for nasa in the hope that one day in the future some other schlep will get his name on the engine, that carried a bunch of other schleps to space. And all those people who every year want to go to mars?? They all came out of uranus each was a commie gay fag. You fuckers can keep your little green men and your secrets and I will keep my little green buds and my secrets. You can go around and whine about your budget isn't funded, meanwhile I will smoke all I want on my budget very wisely. You can whine about how your laptop screen needs replacement, shall I light another bowl? You can bitch about CISPA, but I only wonder did that purple bud I gave you taste good? You know what the monkey said when he got out of the space ship? "Big Fucking Deal" I agree with the monkey, if you want to tie your dick onto a burning rocket motor that's your ballsack in the sling not mine, now where are the unique buds?

idea (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43430545)

instead of trying to move an asteroid, why not move the earth? make a big ass rocket pack, strap it to the ground somewhere and point it at the sky

don't worry about throwing off climate, tides, etc... just let the politicians figure out who to blame for that stuff

Not mitigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43431051)

You don't reduce the risk of an event by calculating its odds - the risk of us being hit by an asteroid is the same today as it was last year. We just have a better idea of what the risk is.

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