Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Can't Pay for Killer Asteroid Hunt

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the anyone-raid-the-coffee-fund-money dept.

Space 398

CGISecurity.com writes "NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn't enough money to pay for the task so it won't get done. 'We know what to do, we just don't have the money,' said Simon 'Pete' Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center." But hey, it's just the potential end of the world, so nothing much to worry about there.

cancel ×

398 comments

Lets assume they had the funding (2, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250436)

Does it really matter? If there is a life on earth ending event occurring from some asteroid they COULD find, does it matter at all? There is nothing we can do about it anyway. So tell me, what is the big deal.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (5, Funny)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250470)

I'd certainly like to know. I've got a decent chunk of change sitting in my retirement accounts that i could throw one hell of a world-ending party with.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (3, Interesting)

penguinrenegade (651460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250648)

So instead of doing something valuable like finding killer asteroids [wikipedia.org] that actually exist and have hit the world in the last 100 years, we send a mission to Mars, send up commercial satellites on government paid for shuttles?

Use the money for something useful instead of finding out the effects of sending rats into space. [cnn.com]

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (5, Insightful)

hiroller (994761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250712)

Well a mission to the Moon and Mars, bent on colonizing planets outside of our native planet, would be extremely beneficial and would pay off tremendously if Earth was ever faced with a crisis that we could not prevent. It would at least save our species from extinction!

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (3, Insightful)

jcorno (889560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250690)

I've got a decent chunk of change sitting in my retirement accounts that i could throw one hell of a world-ending party with.

Yeah, but why would they give it to you? As soon as we know it's coming, every bank on the planet is gonna throw hundred million dollar embezzlement parties.

Why would that be the case? (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250492)

There is nothing we can do about it anyway.

Seems like a questionable assumption to me. There's quite a bit we could possibly do about it, if we knew long enough in advance. It's only if we only knew about it a few weeks or months in advance, that it would probably be a bend-over-and-pucker-up moment.

There is a whole lot of ingenuity (and a whole lot of explosives) spread across the globe as a whole; assuming that people got together and decided that the continued survival of the human species is a Good Idea, I suspect we could probably figure out a way to annihilate or deflect a rock, given enough lead time.

Re:Why would that be the case? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250528)

in essence...

Everyone wants nuclear disarmarment...
And there's a big freaking rock heading towards our planet...

Two birds, one stone anyone?

Re:Why would that be the case? (4, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251084)

That would never work. Didn't you ever see "Armageddon"? That explains it all! It's the difference between holding a firecracker in an open hand versus a clenched fist. If you just throw nukes at a killer asteroid, it's not disintegrating, you're just breaking off small chunks. What you need is a tight-knit, highly competent, yet maverick and juvenile sea platform drilling crew so you can train them as astronauts, and launch them into space so they can embed the nukes in the asteroid's core and blow it to bits!

Link for Armageddon (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251138)

Forgot to use the preview button, and my URL was not formed properly. Here you go! "Armageddon" [imdb.com]

Re:Why would that be the case? (0, Troll)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250684)

Seems like a questionable assumption to me. There's quite a bit we could possibly do about it, if we knew long enough in advance. It's only if we only knew about it a few weeks or months in advance, that it would probably be a bend-over-and-pucker-up moment.
Does anyone else see the transparency of the NASA statement. Sure, we COULD find earth killers, but we don't have the money... We get it NASA, you're broke and nobody cares. You still want to be relevant but the problem is you're such a piece of shit bureaucracy that you just can't be anymore. It's your own fault. You've got outdated procedures and processes that don't work, you spend *WAY* too much money in failure and you have *NO* plan to fix your broken atmosphere of failure. Time to fold it up and start over.

Go home and get your shine box.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (1)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250532)

What do you mean "nothing we can do"? I'm certain we can find a rowdy-yet-lovable bunch of oil drillers to send up there on a suicidal mission to blow up the asteroids from the inside with some nuclear weapons, all set to an Aerosmith soundtrack. What's so hard about that?

or... (3, Funny)

lpcustom (579886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250698)

We could just cut out the middle man and send Steven Tyler into space to eat it....or maybe Chuck Norris could give it a roundhouse.

It's a slow slow process. (2, Insightful)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250552)

Depending on what asteroid we are talking about it would be a relatively long time frame between hitting the earth. There is one asteroid that we are tracking that if it basically passes through the certain area we know it's going to hit earth but there will be plenty of time to prepare. It had some ironic name involving some god of death. I really wish I knew the name. According to wikipedia one might hit 800 years from now.

I'd Rather Know (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250582)

That way I could greet the end of the world heavily in debt and with an empty wine cellar. No sense in saving up for retirement if a killer asteroid is just going to destroy the world a week after you quit your job and move to the Caribbean.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250612)

If you're assuming that any threat they find will destroy us within a year or two, then yes there's not a great deal we can do about it - Bruce Willis is always busy and Robert Duvall isn't getting any younger.

But in all likelihood any threat they find won't be destroying us within the next couple of years, it'll be something that will hit in 10 or 20 or 100 years. On those timeframes there are many things we can do, even if at this specific moment it could only be summed up as "let's give a load of smart guys a lot of money to figure out what we're going to do".

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250682)

As it turns out, there are ways to hit that asteroid out of the way, assuming we see it in time. If we don't know it's coming, there won't be crap we can do, because it will be "too close" by that time. One proposed way to hit them out of the way is with interstellar billiards, where you hit a smaller one into a bigger one into the threatening one, and even a slight nudge when it's far off will do the trick.

Shelters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250734)

Even if there was nothing we could do about the asteroid itself - which is pretty possible given the sheer momentum of 50-km lump of rock moving at tens of km per second - we could certainly be doing useful stuff with bomb shelters, seed banks, food caches etc in the hope that civilisation at some level could survive the event. After all, rodents survived the dinosaur extinction, with our intelligence and technology we should be capable of pulling off the same feat.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (0, Redundant)

hsa (598343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250906)

There is nothing we can do about it anyway.

We can sent a team of very good drillers to the asteroid. Their mission is to drill 800 ft. into the comet to place a nuclear explosive device. The explosion of the bomb will break the comet in two, and the two pieces will pass earth on both sides.

I hear Harry S. Stamper is a good choice.

Re:Lets assume they had the funding (1, Funny)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251100)

here is nothing we can do about it anyway.

Sure we can. I saw a documentary not long ago that showed how we could fly onto the comment and drill a nuclear weapon into the core and explode it. All we need is to make sure Ben Afflack's schedule is empty.

About $1 Billion (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250452)

I'm a United States citizen.

I have paid ~$50-60 for a few smoke detector and pay maybe a dollar or two a year to maintain the batteries in them.

I make an average amount of income so $50 is nothing when a fire could take my life. I've seen other people's houses destroyed by fires but never mine. I don't know if we see other planets regularly destroyed by asteroids or impacts but if you can make a case for it, then this analogy may be apt.

I also know that walking down the street in Prince George's County might result in your death. So do I hire a body guard to protect me? No. Why? Because I don't have the money for that. If I were a billionaire, I would definitely look into it and probably hire a driver too. I see people robbed and killed on TV so, again, if you can point to examples where planets have been destroyed, this analogy is apt.

Considering the war in Iraq has cost me, the taxpayer, $300 billion and I'm not sure that that is increasing my safety ... what's another billion? I mean, it's obvious NASA's not asking us to spend a significant amount of our income on "Asteroid Insurance."

In my opinion, all NASA needs to do is present congress with a scientific statistic claim with percent confidence of global destruction. If we have craters on our planet & there are bones of things that shouldn't have died lying all around, I'm guessing they could place something like a 1% chance of a decent sized asteroid hitting us within a couple thousand years. Given that information, $1 billion may not seem like a bad idea considering most of us employ smoke detectors with even less risk of harm/loss to us.

Re:About $1 Billion (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250536)

"I don't know if we see other planets regularly destroyed by asteroids or impacts"

We saw Shoemaker-Levy

Re:About $1 Billion (4, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250808)

That's just more proof that we don't have to do anything... There's still exactly as much life on Jupiter now as there was before it was hit; therefore if the Earth is hit by a similar-sized object, life will survive just fine. Q.E.D.

Congress is the roadblock. (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250556)

See, hunting for killer asteroids requires money, that money can serve Congress better by buying votes through some "aid" program. NASA will continue to get the short end of the stick because we as American citizens keep putting back the same aristocracy that is allowing the US to fall behind the world in science.

NASA doesn't need to justify it, we the people need to justify ourselves by putting people more concerned about advancing this nation instead of advancing their own status.

That $300 billion tab in Iraq is meaningless in this conversation as NASA's budget would still be what it is. The money would have just vanished down some vote buying program that forever indebts us.

Re:About $1 Billion (4, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250600)

In my opinion, all NASA needs to do is present congress with a scientific statistic claim with percent confidence of global destruction. If we have craters on our planet & there are bones of things that shouldn't have died lying all around, I'm guessing they could place something like a 1% chance of a decent sized asteroid hitting us within a couple thousand years. Given that information, $1 billion may not seem like a bad idea considering most of us employ smoke detectors with even less risk of harm/loss to us.

This sounds like an entirely rational, sensible argument. As a result, I predict that it will have absolutely zero effect on anyone in Congress.

As an alternative, I suggest you come up with some "evidence" suggesting that an asteroid impact would transform their children into mutants, preferably homosexual ones; or, that the asteroids are a Arab Terrorist Plot. Double points if the asteroid is Mexican.

Re:About $1 Billion (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250892)

You forgot to mention that the asteroid looks like a breast, and will be visible to the naked eye (albeit for a couple milliseconds) before it hits. Then maybe the FCC would drop some of it's budget on the problem.

Re:About $1 Billion (0, Flamebait)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250992)

This sounds like an entirely rational, sensible argument. As a result, I predict that it will have absolutely zero effect on anyone in Congress.

As an alternative, I suggest you come up with some "evidence" suggesting that an asteroid impact would transform their children into mutants, preferably homosexual ones; or, that the asteroids are a Arab Terrorist Plot. Double points if the asteroid is Mexican.

Apparently you haven't been paying attention. NASA's de jure purpose is certainly the exploration of strange new worlds, and the going where no one has gone before, and so on... after all, purposes de jure must always sound good. However, NASA's de facto purpose is to distribute federal funds into specific congressional districts.

Therefore, rational and poetic arguments will win applause in Congress, but the votes will come when somebody takes the podium and presents an asteroid-detection system whose major components are situated (or at least fabricated) in the congressional districts of everyone on the appropriations committee.

Re:About $1 Billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250770)

Except that 'asteroid insurance' isn't. 'Terrorist insurance' assumes that they're spending the money finding and killing terrorists and potential terrorists. Not the same with the asteroid, which, once they find the one that will smash the earth back to the days of Fred Flintstone, there's nothing they can do to stop it.

Re:About $1 Billion (2, Insightful)

caeili draziw (1072412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250780)

"Considering the war in Iraq has cost me, the taxpayer, $300 billion and I'm not sure that that is increasing my safety ... what's another billion?" Do you really think that if the US were not in Iraq NASA would all of the sudden have all the cash they need to run all the missions they could? Gimme a break. The Iraq adventure has cost far more than $300 billion and if we were not there that money would not have gone to NASA. That money would have gone to more government cheese for the poor or some other program.

Re:About $1 Billion (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250786)

In my opinion, all NASA needs to do is present congress with a scientific statistic claim with percent confidence of global destruction. If we have craters on our planet & there are bones of things that shouldn't have died lying all around, I'm guessing they could place something like a 1% chance of a decent sized asteroid hitting us within a couple thousand years. Given that information, $1 billion may not seem like a bad idea considering most of us employ smoke detectors with even less risk of harm/loss to us.

Normally I might agree, but we're talking the general populace here. You can show Congressmen and their constituents all the holes in the ground and Shoemaker-Levy photos you like, but we live in a world of "that's not my problem" and "can't happen to me" and "it's not going to happen tomorrow". Unless a sizable chunk of something streaks across the heavens, lights up the night's sky, and obliterates an area where there are a few hundred thousand people with cell-phone cameras and video cameras and a CNN satellite truck nearby, no one is really going to care. Remember, a larger number of people than was previously thought are starting to question evolution -- asking them to worry about an asteroid impact is probably asking too much.

Tunguska Event (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250900)

Unless a sizable chunk of something streaks across the heavens, lights up the night's sky, and obliterates an area where there are a few hundred thousand people with cell-phone cameras and video cameras and a CNN satellite truck nearby, no one is really going to care.
Why don't they just show them pictures and proof of the Tunguska Event [wikipedia.org] and play the emotional card a la Fox News? "Find out what is already going to kill your children!"

It may have happened in the middle of nowhere many years ago but if we could predict that months in advance, perhaps an evacuation of the area would be possible? Also, if it is hitting on/near another country and we are able to warn them or help them through the debacle, that's gotta be worth a lot too, ain't it?

Hope the MPAA doesn't see this (4, Funny)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250804)

Quota from Armageddon - "No offense General, but it's a big ass sky..."

Re:About $1 Billion (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250842)

"If we have craters on our planet & there are bones of things that shouldn't have died lying all around,"

What if the people paying the bills don't believe in the bones of things laying around?

Re:About $1 Billion (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250850)

If we have craters on our planet & there are bones of things that shouldn't have died lying all around, I'm guessing they could place something like a 1% chance of a decent sized asteroid hitting us within a couple thousand years.

B-b-b-but those craters and bones were placed there in order to test our faith!

If an asteroid is going to hit the earth, obviously that is part of the end times, and the Rapture is nigh. Who are we to disrupt God's plan?

I jest. But the scary thing is that there are plenty of people out there who would think I'm serious -- and would agree with me -- and some of those people are sitting in the House of Representatives.

all NASA needs to do is present congress with a scientific statistic claim with percent confidence of global destruction
Erm, that's not quite how the Congressional budgeting procedure works. The responses NASA might get could be:

"Well, OK, but how much of that budget is going to be spent in my state?" or
"But your budget is alreay over $16Bn. Surely you can cut some fat and some useless programs from your budget to cover this, if it is so important." or
"Surely this should fall under the aegis of the Homeland Security Department. Maybe you should go talk to them." or
"How's that moon landing coming, Bob?"

Your logic makes perfect sense. But getting money out of Congress for something seen as low-risk (even 1% over a couple thousand years) isn't so easy, particularly when tax cuts are all the rage and there is a looming federal budget crisis over the next two generations.

Re:About $1 Billion (3, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250932)

We have seen Jupiter hit by a killer comet. While not 'destroyed', the damage created a violent weather system that lasted for YEARS over an area many times larger than the planet earth. In addition, we have record that our own planet has undergone massive extinctions that we believe was likely caused by asteroids or commets. So I would say that we have in fact seen a planet sufficiently damaged and have records of others, so the case is made.

The real problem is that what NASA wants to do is pay $1 billion to FIND the asteroid, not to deal with the problem. Preventing it may not be possible, and if it is possible, could cost a lot more than the mere $1 billion.

So, the question is, is it worth x cash to get a smoke detector if the house is locked up tight and we can't get out of it. Or is it better for us to not know, as we can't do anything about it, and just continue on with our lives without worldwide panic.

Re:About $1 Billion (1)

truckaxle (883149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250948)

Considering the war in Iraq has cost me, the taxpayer, $300 billion


Yes but don't forget the rallying sound bite "They hate our freedoms"

*Scratches head* (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250454)

Seems to me that a thorough survey of NEOs (Near Earth Objects) should be part of NASA's charter.

Might be time to hassle my congresspeople again.

Earth-science priorities vs. Republicans on Mars (2, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250586)

The Bush Administration announced a while back that NASA's priorities should be to get us back to the moon and come up with a way to get humans to Mars, and NASA's been complaining that it's interfering significantly with the budget for earth science projects - satellites and such. They only get so much money, and if they've got to put it into planning for human missions to places that should really be handled by robots at this point, then they don't have enough to do most of the other work.

Re:*Scratches head* (3, Informative)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250678)

Nasa does keep a thorough survey of NEOs
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/ [nasa.gov]

They (try to) keep track of any asteroids 100m in diameter or greater that can come within 0.05 AU of earth.

The end of the world as we know it, (2, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250460)

And I feel fine.

Seriously, the British seem to be really obsessed with this, couldn't they kick in a couple of quid? How about the Russians, or the Chinese, or...

Re:The end of the world as we know it, (1)

dotzen (948724) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250564)

Seems to me this is something the entire planet would be concerned with. Couldn't NASA work with the other agencies (India, China, Russia, EU, etc) to get the funding necessary?

Re:The end of the world as we know it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250714)

Nahh, one thing i've learn from movies, is that world-sizes destruction events only happen to USA, here in south america we are safe from all that XD

Re:The end of the world as we know it, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251174)

Well, in Starship Troopers, your cities were being wiped by the aliens sending asteroids to smack them.

Doesn't Matter (1)

Debello (1030486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250462)

Whether or not we find the asteroids, there's nothing we can do it about them if one is going to hit us.

Duck and Cover (2, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250518)

This is Jenny. She and her family are having a picnic at the foot of a volcano. Oh no. The volcano has errupted. What do you do now Jenny? That's right duck and cover. What do you do Jimmy? Duck and cover. DUCK AND COVER!

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250596)

At least have a towel near you all the time... just in case.

That's a bit of a stretch to just say. (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250672)

Whether or not we find the asteroids, there's nothing we can do it about them if one is going to hit us.

I don't buy this for a second. In fact, I suspect that if the resources of the entire planet were committed, over a number of years, it would probably be possible to put a breeding population of humans on another planet, with at least a small chance of surviving and propagating the species. Or of digging deep subterranean caves and squirreling away some people down there, etc. Or of blowing the incoming asteroid up with nuclear weapons, deflecting it with some sort of propulsion unit / system of complex mirrors / etc.

In short, I really don't think there's any particular reason why we couldn't ensure our own survival, if we (a) really wanted to, and (b) knew about the impending problem long enough in advance. While funding NASA's search would do nothing about problem (a), it would do a whole lot about (b). Which, to me, puts us about 50% closer to surviving than if neither (a) nor (b) are true.

But there IS something we can do about them (1)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250852)

I disagree. If we determine an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, we can deflect it.

Remember that these are not comets that we are talking about, they are asteroids with elliptical orbits with major and minor radii similar to that of earth. If that orbit has a chance to intersect that of earth, it is because it has always been nearby. The asteroid and earth pass near each other on a regular basis.

FTFA:

Earth got a scare in 2004, when initial readings suggested an 885-foot asteroid called 99942 Apophis seemed to have a chance of hitting Earth in 2029. But more observations showed that wouldn't happen. Scientists say there is a 1-in-45,000 chance that it could hit in 2036.


So this particular asteroid will pass very close to Earth in 2029 and has a chance to hit in 2036. If further observation confirms that it will in fact impact earth in 2036, then we can send up 150 nukes when it passes in 2029 and detonate them one at a time at the right spot.
A tiny nudge + 7 years of drift time = a miss!

Now, if we were to discover a comet was on a colliding course with Earth. Then it would be time to stockpile beer and fireworks.

Funding something else matters more to US gov.. (1, Insightful)

carlvlad (942493) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250472)

like finding so called 'terrorist'..

Re:Funding something else matters more to US gov.. (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250606)

Obviously, these are terrorist asteroids launched from the bug planet.

Re:Funding something else matters more to US gov.. (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250634)

It could be argued that not finding terrorists is more in the best interest of the government at this point. If they find them then there won't be anything to distract the American people from seeing the problems that the administration is trying to ignore.

So yes they will spend money "looking" for terrorists but they won't ever "find" enough to call the job done.

Bonus points for locking up innocent people and trying to make them look like bad guys to save face by the way.

They'll find the money (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250496)

If the thing is small enough to destroy, money will be found. Yeah, we may have to tell Iraq "sorry" and stop all Social Security payments but we'll find a way.

If the thing is too big or too close and it's curtains for life as we know it, well, "eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

Re:They'll find the money (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250954)

The problem isn't the money to destroy it or alter it's course... the problem is the money to find it.

If we don't know about it until it hits us (the likeliest current situation) then not only do we not get to try and destroy it, but we don't even get to party like it's 1999.

NASA vs. UNASA (5, Interesting)

bronzey214 (997574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250508)

Actually, NASA is already tracking objects >3,300 feet in diameter, but this would be to track all objects capable of doing "massive damage" to Earth.

My question is - why is it the job of the US to protect the world?

Wouldn't this be a UN issue?

No Klingons need apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250590)

More of a United Federation of planets issue. Why are all my tax dollars paying for ships and phasers if they are not going to be used to protect the homeworld?

Re:NASA vs. UNASA (2, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250640)

Oh yeah, like someone is going to give the UN the means to "protect the world".

The UN is powerless 'cos that's how the US (and others) want it to be.

Re:NASA vs. UNASA (5, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250720)

Because, all cynicism aside, at the end of the day it's the US's job to protect the US. And a global catastrophie would definitely run counter to that credo. No other space agency is stepping up to the plate. Some people are going to get a free ride, but that's the way it is when you lead.

Not to say that United States of America is a leader, but a leader would definitely take on the challenge, or at least a nation that wants to bill itself as a "world leader".

Re:NASA vs. UNASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250894)

It could be a job for the UN ...

The UN would just need more funding, and a space agency.

And just maybe the US should start paying its outstanding debt to the UN. And no, the US is not paying to mutch.. The countries of the EU pay together more than the US.

Prioritize - Dump the space station! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250522)

And mothball the shuttle as soon as hubble gets serviced and put the rest into tracking asteroids.

Re:Prioritize - Dump the space station! (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250706)

I agree with mothballing the shuttle. If my memory serves, the original planning for the shuttle was for it to already have been taken out of service to make way for a more economical orbital craft. However, and this is my take on it, since every Congressman has companies within their district that make parts for the Shuttle - when budget time comes around the shuttle program doesn't take many hits. A more efficient craft might not take 10000 contractors 1000000 man hours to make 2 widgets and thus some people/voters/companies would be out of a job/contract.

Re:Prioritize - Dump the space station! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250938)

seriously, i understand that it is nice that all these coutries get together to build it, and i guess if you really stretch the meaning of usefull, you can say that it is usefull by teaching us how to live in space for long streaches of time. But when are we going to do that any time soon? Other than if we build another drain on taxpayer money in space. We have no good reason to send people out there right now. Everything can be done with robots, for less money, and no risk to human life. And when we save money from killing the space station, and mothballing the shuttle, we can spend that money on things like looking for planet killers, and researching how to design a better space vehicle for when we can actually go somewhere and do something. NASA might be underfunded, but they also don't spend money very well.

Aflack, err Affleck (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250570)

Yet we had enough money to make a (horrendous) movie about such possible events. We very well might deserve anything that hits us.

Re:Aflack, err Affleck (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250792)

I'd mod you up, just for disparaging Armageddon. That piece of tripe was terrible. I thought deep Deep Impact was much better, although too much mushy story in there, so still only a C+ at best.

A contrarian look at it (1, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250576)

But hey, it's just the potential end of the world, so nothing much to worry about there.

Hey, it's only a government official asking for more funding for his agency...

Contrary to what people may think, the danger of getting hit by an asteroid has not increased over the past, uhmm, 5000 years. What increased is the frequency, with which the potential incident is mentioned in the media...

Re:A contrarian look at it (4, Insightful)

EMeta (860558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250832)

Also increased:

The amount of people whom it will kill.
The capacity we have to do something about it.

You call that a state? (5, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250580)

The explosion alone could have with the power of 100 million tons of dynamite, enough to devastate an entire state, such as Maryland, they said.

Maryland [netstate.com] ? Here in Texas, we call that a "county". Call me when you have something that can devastate a real state.

Re:You call that a state? (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250628)

Maryland? Here in Texas, we call that a "county". Call me when you have something that can devastate a real state.
Texas? Here in Quebec, we call that a "region". Call me when you have something that can devastate a province. ;-)

Re:You call that a state? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250798)

Quebec ? Here in Oz we call that a back yard, call me when have something that can devestate a territory ;-)

Re:You call that a state? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250924)

Texas? Here in Quebec, we call that a "region". Call me when you have something that can devastate a province. ;-)
Quebec? Here in the former Soviet Union we call that a ... aw fuckit

Supernova insurance (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250584)

I think we also need NASA to monitor the Sun for any signs of impending supernova.

A supernova would destroy the Earth and clearly kill all of us. Therefore we should spend whatever it takes to monitor the Sun.

Oh, and I suppose we need NASA to keep a death-clock for the heat-death of the Universe too.

And perhaps satellites to monitor the humongous black holes in the center of galaxies to make sure we aren't drifting towards any of them.

Oh, and we shouldn't eat charcoaled food either. Don't forget the blackened food...

Re:Supernova insurance (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250922)

I think we also need NASA to monitor the Sun for any signs of impending supernova.

A supernova would destroy the Earth and clearly kill all of us. Therefore we should spend whatever it takes to monitor the Sun.

The sun cannot supernova. And BTW, we are monitoring the sun. All the time. It's not just a nova that poses a danger. How about solar storms? I would sure like to know if the Sun is about to spew electromagnetic radiation all over
us, especially if it was a very powerful storm capable of knocking out electronics. We might not be able to stop it, but we can mitigate the consequences.

The rest of your post is unrelated and asinine.

Consider this: we have auto insurance because there are wrecks frequently.

Well, on an astronomical scale, there are impacts frequently. That might not translate into tomorrow, or it might. Point is, we don't know. Don't you think we SHOULD?

You seem to think there's nothing we can do about it.

In this respect, you are wrong.

TLF

news flash (3, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250592)

News flash: Government agency asks for more funding

Hm. Nice planet. Shame if anything happened to it. (4, Funny)

andreamer (937648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250594)

I like the part where they say... "enough to devastate an entire state, such as Maryland"

"Oh, not that we'd WANT anything to happen to Maryland, Congress. No. But, you know, sometimes things go wrong. Especially when NASA doesn't get funding. It makes NASA so disappointed when it doesn't get funding, and when you're disappointed, you sometimes don't look so hard for killer asteroids. You know how it is."

time to make moves (1)

penguinbroker (1000903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250598)

"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space ... [as] there are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet." Like Hawkings says, we can't stop everything... or maybe that was Murphy... anyway, i'm all for interstellar travel as the ultimate solution to 'this' problem.

Finally! (1)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250610)

Someone at NASA is learning how to play the game with Congress.

They can barely get funding for exploration, with the myopic bureaucrats babbling on about how things like going back to the moon or a manned mission to Mars are a waste of money.

Head on back to your constituents and explain why you won't pony up a measly $1 billion for this project. We'll bring out some nice PowerPoint slides showing Barney the Dinosaur narrating what happened the last time a major asteroid hit the planet. Maybe add some clips from Armageddon and Deep Impact, just for the effects.

By the time NASA is done, Congress should approve funding for survey missions to the Asteroid Belt.

Re:Finally! (1)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250622)

"By the time NASA is done, Congress should approve funding for survey missions to the Asteroid Belt."

Mission approved! BRB.

re: It's like the lottery! (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251126)

NASA needs a "You can't win if you don't play!" ad campaign!

$1 (3, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250614)

A cheaper option would be to simply piggyback on other agencies' telescopes, a cost of about $300 million, also rejected

Thats $1 per American. There shouldnt even be a debate.

Re:$1 (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250988)

"But hey, it's just the potential end of the world, so nothing much to worry about there."

Last I checked, the U.S. isn't the entire world. Perhaps Europe, Russia and China could kick in a bit to save the planet too. If the rest of the world is going to continue to utilize the resources of the U.S. tax payer they perhaps the rest of the world had best be prepared to accept U.S. sovereignty.

Re:$1 (1)

n2art2 (945661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251046)

yeah. . . and the next $1 per person should be the same way. . . no debate. . . . and the next time, and the next time, and the next time. . . .

give an inch. . .

Re:$1 (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251128)

yeah. . . and the next $1 per person should be the same way. . . no debate. . . . and the next time, and the next time, and the next time. . . . give an inch. . .

Ok, theyre shouldnt be much of a debate. We have been deficit spending for most of my life. Whats $300 million.

Life Imitating Art (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250618)

It'll be like the movies, we won't know a killer asteroid is coming until it is right on top of us. Why? Because our political leaders can't think past the next election. There's no way they'll fund anything to find threats that may not be an issue for thousands of years, thousands of years past the end of their terms. I only hope human technology will be up to the task of defending the Earth from these threats on short notice.

What a shame! (4, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250652)

It was just a few years ago that a fairly sizable asteroid passed between the Earth and the Moon and we didn't even notice it until it passed by because it came from the direction of the sun. We need at least several years notice on these things if we want to avoid a direct hit at some point. There's no argument to be made against paying for the survey. We know big rocks hit the Earth. It's happened plenty of times in the past. It will eventually happen again. And it's one of those things that doesn't really cost that much compared to the GDP.

That said, it's to the benefit of the entire planet and the entire planet should pitch in to help pay for it. Someone said, "So what? There's nothing we can do about it." Actually, given a few years notice, there's a lot we can do about it. An asteroid 5-10 years from hitting doesn't need much of a push to get it completely out of our way. It's when it's only a few months away that we're just completely screwed. But if there were an imminent threat of collision a few years out, I guarantee you, we'd figure out a way to move it. The world would definitely come up with the resources to figure out a solution.

It's a shame.. (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250668)

..that the only feasible organization that has the ability to spot and prevent such disasters is based in the US. Maybe it's time NASA started looking for serious, private funding? Imagine how much they could do if the government contracted NASA with billions of dollars instead of spending all the tax dollars on new tanks..

Reality is, unfortunately, that war is expensive, especially when the current president thinks that money is just a bunch of numbers he gives to other people for things that go "boom". I'm afraid the longer this war goes on, the more government-funded organizations we're going to see having problems like this.

Think out side the BOX (4, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250730)

All they really need to do is develop an automated identification software and telescope computer interface. Then sell them for about $200 each. It would only take a 12" scope to ID 99% of the objects!

Then set up a registry and offer the Discovery announcement, naming rights, and mineral rights to anyone that ID's them.

Hell, I would spend all night ID'ing them for the mineral rights alone :)

Re:Think out side the BOX (2, Informative)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251130)

Such a system exists. It works on the simple principle that asteroids move while stars do not. I believe they use wide field of view lenses. I know they cost much more than $200.

Existing systems include (Wikipedia)
        * The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) team
        * The Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) team
        * Spacewatch
        * The Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search (LONEOS) team
        * The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS)
        * The Campo Imperatore Near-Earth Objects Survey (CINEOS) team
        * The Japanese Spaceguard Association
        * The Asiago-DLR Asteroid Survey (ADAS)

Such a registry exists
ftp://ftp.lowell.edu/pub/elgb/astorb.html [lowell.edu]

Naming rights belong to the discovering team, which is actually a bit of a sore point since these systems are SOO much more efficient at finding comets than amateur astronomers. So it's almost impossible to find and name something after yourself. It is simply given a number designation followed by the acronym of the team which found it.

Mining rights? Err... Yeah... Right.

There is a real concern (2, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250768)

NASA is tracking an asteroid [cnn.com] , that could hit the earth in 2036. OF course by "could" NASA means 1:45,000. Still, why is the US the only country tasked with worrying about this. Hopefully the members of the UN wake up and smell the asteroid!

Re:There is a real concern (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250826)

1:45,000 is still better odds than winning the lottery - yet people do...

Makes sense (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250802)

This should be funded by the nations of the world, not just one country.

The fatalism in this thread is bizarre (3, Insightful)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250816)

The number of people in this thread saying "Oh well, there's nothing we can do about it anyway" is just bizarre. It's one thing to think the threat is not worth the money, it's another to think there's no point in even trying to defend against it. Weird.

CYA Analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250862)

This is such an easy equation in the CYA department. If there is no big asteroid coming to kill us all and you spend a bunch of money to find it, then you're in big trouble with your superiors. If you do nothing though, you're lauded for being thrifty or you're dead; either way you don't have to deal with bullshit.

That's who we do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250890)

This whole thing reminds me of something that sickens my stomach. It's not that we can't do it. It's just that there isn't enough profit in it. This theme resonates everywhere.

No, don't sell a cure, it's more profitable to treat the disease.

essential human nature (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250896)

we all fail this: we underestimate threats until they hit us, then we overreact

look at 9/11 for example, or the 2004 tsunami

the problem is, it's emotional. the emotions are hooked up to some other issue before the catalclysm hits us, then when it hits us, it becomes very emotional, and we start doing all sorts of crazy stuff, including stuff we don't have to do/ shouldn't do for our own good

and don't poopoo this fact about "other" people: you do the same thing, don't lie to yourself. like you can't find an example of what i just described above somewhere in your personal life history. it's essential human nature, and that includes your behavior, human

the lesson?

we better be hit with a big asteroid that takes out a country or a continent before we get hit with the one that takes out the planet

only in the former case will humanity's response be effective at saving itself

but if we get hit with the planet-killer first? we're flat out doomed. we won't be prepared. simple human nature dictates this fact

so the history of humanity is wrapped up in this coin flip: planet-killer or country killer. combine this random chance with essential human natue, and whichever hits us first determines whether or not humanity surivives

Suppress the messenger (0, Troll)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250934)

It's the only consistent policy from the Bush administration regarding science, so why does anyone expect anything different now?

Eh (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250956)

It's just cheaper to wait a few billion years for roaches to evolve sentience in the unlikely event of a near-term collision. We'll kill ourselves off sooner than that, so no sense in worrying about asteroids unless one's coming in <100 years or so.

Terrists in Spaaaaaaace (2, Insightful)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250960)

Someone just tell Bush/Congress that the terrorists have achieved a presence in orbit (thanks to Iran!), and we need to be able to keep an eye on the entire atmosphere and beyond to be able to defend against this new threat. Push out the same idea to the media, and the general American public will rally and cry for it (well, a few concerned citizens with too much time and too little intelligence will send some e-mails to their congressmen) causing congress to back the plan (well, some interns will get a few minutes with their congressperson to mention some odd e-mails about this, and the congressperson will back the plan without doing any sort of research), and it's practically guaranteed!

Oh, and will you look at that, the same technology used to protect us from terrorists can also detect killer asteroids and potentially habitable planets in a galaxy far, far away.

Well, ain't that a coincidence. TWAT succeeds yet again!

A Greedy WorlD (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251008)

You would think that in an event like this currency would be ignored and people would manufacture to save there lives as well as the lives of there loved ones. In this day and age everyone has to get paid for something...>_>

Bathtub drowning (4, Insightful)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251026)

Grover Norquist, neocon "think tanker" and propogandist extraordinaire, once eludicated that he wanted to shrink government down to the point where one could drown it in a bathtub. Huzzah, cheer, all that from his audience.

Budget cuts are effectively impossible now, as discretionary spending, defined as non-obligatory, is now a tiny percentage of the Federal budget and essentially irrelevant in cost cutting.

How does one cut then? Apparently the neocons are using a new trick: spend like maniacs. Eventually discretionary funding, like NASA, becomes impossible because so much of the budget has gone towards military and privatization expenses. So much was spent that they had to borrow trillions to keep spending more.

Effect is that the government owes so much that the largest non-discretionary line item, outside of the military, is simply paying yearly interest on the debt. So the two biggest expenditures are now the military and paying out national treasure to service the debt of the money lent to us to cut taxes and spend like fools.

End game: government has three purposes: spending on military, spending on now-privatized government services, and debt service on monies borrowed to spend in the 2000's (and the Reagan 80's) on tax cuts. Government becomes a military contractor, a corporate contractor, and a welfare fountain for the very wealthy, while never actually paying off the debt incurred to give tax cuts to those same very wealthy.

And NASA doesn't get funds, the NSF gets defunded, a chain reaction of penury resulting from this spending NOW. The neocons get their new, streamlined government which looks a lot like a classic fascism, with direct-to-corporation payments, with no spending on things not deemed necessary to fund guns or debt. Bankruptcy.
Both financial and cultural. Other nations without ideological madness spend less on military and tax cuts, keep government services cheap by using civil service, and keep debt low or nonexistent, as Canada or Norway does. Neocon ideology will cripple the future of the U.S., as we are consuming our present and future human capital to enrich the wealthy of today.

Not everything to do with space is NASA's problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251056)

Maybe the rest of the world could do something like this once in awhile???

I learned from the Global Warming deniers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251070)

...that a problem can be ignored if mankind isn't responsible for it. After all, an asteroid striking the earth is a perfectly natural phenomenon, so why spend precious dollars on such a project when we could buy another F-22 instead? If God intended mankind to be destroyed in a freak cosmic accident, then so be it.

And what happens when they FIND one? (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251104)

Do you really trust FEMA? Do you really think you will be protected by the government? The American government is one government I do not trust as it is too easily manipulated by Israel's MOSSAD and the Zionist's. http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=FEMA+CAMp [google.com] I am glad I live in a socalist member state in Europe and my apartment has a nuclear bunker right below it (as do most here) :) We still have the siren's regularly nationwide (when they stop we have been invaded or something and we report to our posts).
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...