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NASA Outlines Asteroid Deflection Program

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the please-destroy-ben-affleck-as-a-side-effect dept.

Space 129

An anonymous reader submitted a link to an International Herald Tribune story about NASA's answer to the movie 'Armageddon'. Specifically, they've outlined a plan to deflect a planet-killer asteroid. "In 1998, Congress gave NASA's Spaceguard Survey program a mandate of 'discovering, tracking, cataloging and characterizing' 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer (3,200 feet) wide by 2008. An object that size would probably destroy civilization. The consensus at the conference was that the initial survey is doing fairly well although it will probably not quite meet the 2008 goal." With this tracking system in place, scientists are hopeful an intervention could be staged before any grim choices have to be made. Assuming they have the money and manpower needed for the effort, NASA has actually outlined a pair of procedures that dove-tail with each other: "First we would deflect the asteroid with kinetic impact from a missile (that is, running into it); then we would use the slight pull of a 'gravity tractor' -- a satellite that would hover near the asteroid -- to fine-tune its new trajectory to our liking. (In the case of an extremely large object, probably one in 100, the missile might have to contain a nuclear warhead.) To be effective, however, such missions would have to be launched 15 or even 30 years before a calculated impact."

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ATTENTION SLASHDOTTERS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384617)

IT IS TIME TO MOVE OUT OF YOUR PARENTS BASEMENT.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Off Topic (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385171)

This post comes up every once in a while. I always find it really amusing. Slashdot is essentially a trade magazine; it targets and draws IT professionals, usually a very high-paid group of people and not a group likely to live in their parent's basements. Then there is somebody who takes the time to sit around late Friday night/Saturday morning, and hit the refresh button over and over until he can get the first post (ie, somebody without a job, a girlfriend, or probably many friends) and uses it to accuse a community of well paid professionals of living in their parents basements.

Re:Off Topic (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388557)

Wow, I think you're being generous. I had always assumed the grandparent was some homeless person with serious mental problems sneaking into a library or cybercafe.

Interventions (5, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384655)

With this tracking system in place, scientists are hopeful an interventions could be staged before any grim choices have to be made.

NASA has announced that they have gathered the mother, father, siblings, and close friends of asteroid YT8OJR in order to confront it about it's continued binge drinking and other self destructive behavior before it leaves more shattered lives in its wake. Unconfirmed reports show that the troubled asteroid could be close to cracking up. Hopefully the intervention will keep it from a collision course with disaster.

Re:Interventions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18388277)

I'm just so glad that Europe and all other white countries are being taken over by breed-like-rabbits third world parasites. After all, since the Jews have told us "We're all the same", I can just see the new NASA which is composed of Mexicans, Somalians and mad muslims, REALLY being able to protect humanity from asteroids...

I wonder what percent of NASA is white men? Should we demand 'diversity' in the name of 'equality', and watch a few more missions end in tragedy and failure?

Make things worse? (4, Interesting)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384657)

Can we have an accurate estimate of the probability of a specific impact 30 years in the future? What if we change the course of an asteroid such that it has a new, better chance of hitting us the year after?

Re:Make things worse? (4, Informative)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384783)

There was an interview with a guy on NPR concerning this...from what he was saying, the answer is basically, yes...things in space don't change direction unless something else hits them, so in theory, it is possible to predict an impact 30 years in advance. The main problem is that our ability to model trajectories isn't fine-grained enough to do so, yet.

Re:Make things worse? (2, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385635)

things in space don't change direction unless something else hits them

By hit you also mean the hit of gravity from a close encounter, right?

Re:Make things worse? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386563)

Of course. Thing is, there's a whole lot of nothing up in space. For an asteroid to travel 30 years without coming anywhere near a large object isn't that difficult to imagine...

Re:Make things worse? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388579)

Sure, but we know where all the large masses in the solar system are, out to the orbit of Neptune. We can calculate their effects quite easily, and we do so all the time for our own spacecraft missions.

Re:Make things worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18386871)

>things in space don't change direction unless something else hits them

Ah, you're referring to the use of graviton bats. While extremely useful on small moons in local solar systems, they are not regulation in matches of Intergalactic-Ultra-Cricket.

But seriously man... Jupiter. Smarten up.

And now for my original comment: Since NASA already said [slashdot.org] it doesn't have the dough to detect NEOs (Near Earth Objects), it's good to see that they're at least using the one thing mankind is really good at, missle technology, to attack something once we discover it too late to save ourselves. In this kind of chicken and egg scenario, I'd rather watch 24h live news coverage of things actually being done, rather than Congress screaming about 30 years of budget misappropriations.

Re:Make things worse? (2, Insightful)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384795)

I think in this day and age the requirement for accurate estimates are outweighed by the desire to put nuclear weapons in space.

You can imagine Peter Sellars in the War Room on the phone to China explaining that the nuclear deterrent is to deter asteroids, and in no way is trying to arm space.

How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (4, Interesting)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385759)


In the case of an extremely large object, probably one in 100, the missile might have to contain a nuclear warhead.

On earth, a nuclear weapon causes damage via its atmospheric shock wave - it's the motion [kettering.edu] of the air that causes buildings to fall down [or implode, or whatever].

Do we even know how a hunk of rock would react to the introduction of a bunch of alpha particles/gamma rays/x-rays/infrared radiation/etc? How would the the crystalline structure of the rock be affected? What models do we have that indicate the rock would shatter from an internal heat differential, rather than merely glowing very bright red for a while [assuming the rock even chose to absorb the heat energy in the first place, rather than just deflecting it off into the void of outer space]?

By contrast, underground detonations of nuclear devices are very benign events, and release vastly less energy than a small earthquake or a small volcanic event.

It's only the gaseous shock wave of an atmospheric detonation that causes damage to humans & their metropolitan areas - in the vacuum of outer space, with no atmosphere [i.e. with no gas, hence no gaseous shock wave], a nuclear detonation might not be that big of a deal.

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385981)

I don't think a nuclear weapon would prove effective if detonated near the object, however if the warhead penetrated the object (like bunkerbuster bombs do) and detonated the intense heat would vaporize the matter immediately surrounding it essentially turning it into atmosphere. This newly created super heated atmosphere would then escape though the hole that the nuke created essentially making short blast high intensity thruster. This improvised thruster would then hopefully push the asteroid out of the way enough to avoid impact with the earth.

Robert Pope

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386031)

The issue with that is that it assumes the asteroid is one solid, stable rock. It's just as likely fracture the asteroid because it's a fragile structure made up of many objects not a solid object

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (4, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386097)

On earth, a nuclear weapon causes damage via its atmospheric shock wave - it's the motion of the air that causes buildings to fall down [or implode, or whatever].

Much of the damage caused by nuclear weapons, particularly hydrogen bombs, is actually from the intense heat released; the thermal energy is capable of causing severe burns miles from the point of explosion even after the air has absorbed most of the radiation (which is why, believe it or not, "duck and cover" isn't such bad advice). My suspicion is that you would want to detonate the bomb some distance above the asteroid; the heat would cause the surface of the asteroid to vaporize, and the gas jetted from the surface would shove the asteroid off course.

Empty space varies as N-cubed (1, Insightful)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386867)


My suspicion is that you would want to detonate the bomb some distance above the asteroid; the heat would cause the surface of the asteroid to vaporize, and the gas jetted from the surface would shove the asteroid off course.

Empty space varies as R-cubed, and the spherical effects tend to degrade as 1 over R-squared.

It doesn't take much of an R to make that asteroid look like a tiny, insignificant needle in the vast, overwhelming haystack of empty space.

Cf Derbyshire's critique of Whedon & the "nest of Reavers" [nationalreview.com] .

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18387431)

Do we even know how a hunk of rock would react to the introduction of a bunch of alpha particles/gamma rays/x-rays/infrared radiation/etc?

IANAPhysicist, but I have read a great deal of literature on the subject, and I can tell you with confidence that the hunk of rock would immediately become sentient and gain superpowers the like of which we have never seen before.

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387657)

"Do we even know how a hunk of rock would react to the introduction of a bunch of alpha particles/gamma rays/x-rays/infrared radiation/etc? How would the the crystalline structure of the rock be affected? What models do we have that indicate the rock would shatter from an internal heat differential, rather than merely glowing very bright red for a while [assuming the rock even chose to absorb the heat energy in the first place, rather than just deflecting it off into the void of outer space]?"

Most of the heat would be dissipated by ablative cooling (eg, the surface would vaporize and disperse into space), and that's actually useful for the purposes of giving the body a nudge. The concern is that the shock would disrupt the asteroid, such that there would be more fragments.

Re:How would nuclear weapons work in outer space? (1)

salec (791463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388977)

Do we even know how a hunk of rock would react to the introduction of a bunch of alpha particles/gamma rays/x-rays/infrared radiation/etc? How would the the crystalline structure of the rock be affected? What models do we have that indicate the rock would shatter from an internal heat differential, rather than merely glowing very bright red for a while [assuming the rock even chose to absorb the heat energy in the first place, rather than just deflecting it off into the void of outer space]?
Well, actually, abrupt heating one side of it would have the effect of making some of it evaporate and a sort of reactive push would have been excercised upon the object. Besides, all those particles from the explosion have their own momentum that would be given to the receiving body. So, I think either way the asteroid would deflect.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384711)

CTDF (Chair Throwing Defense System) is a highly effective method of deflecting incoming, civilization-threatening asteriods which are on collision course with our blue planet. The procude is as follows:

1. Fly satellite up there
2. Make satellite paint a big-fat google logo on the asteroid
3. Let Steve Ballmer have a look through telescope
4. Provide him with practically insufficient supply of chairs
5. Wait
6. Danger avoided

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF (2, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384811)

insufficient
I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385503)

Ahh, thanks for pointing that out -- I meant infinite. Didn't feed my babelfish today.

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF (4, Funny)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385043)

A slight modification:

1. Tell Steve Ballmer the asteroid is a threat to Microsoft
2. Disable all space-based anti-ballistic-chair defenses
3. Wait
4. Danger avoided

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: CTDF (2, Funny)

dotgain (630123) | more than 7 years ago | (#18389009)

You are disabling all space-based anti-ballistic chair defenses.
Allow/cancel?

Funding problems, belly up Bill Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384719)

Earning 4 million a day in interest should easily help pay for such a project.

Get a life (1, Troll)

Aaron Isotton (958761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384751)

Humans (in some form or other) live on earth since 4 million years, and no killer asteroid has hit this planet since. How crazy do you have to be to think that an asteroid is a real threat for humankind? *shakes head*

Re:Get a life (1)

aldo.gs (985038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384765)

Come on, now. Even in the summary they mention the word 'Civilization'. Rings any bells?

Re:Get a life (4, Funny)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384813)

So one US government administration is trying to save civilisaiton, and the other US administration seems hell bent on destroying it.

Re:Get a life (5, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384821)

How crazy do you have to be to think that an asteroid is a real threat for humankind? *shakes head*

Well, unless you've seen any dinosaurs lately, an extinction event has happened in the Earth's past at least once. Yeah, the chances of it happening again in our lifetime are infinitesimally small, but the consequences of *not* deflecting an asteroid if it comes our way are especially dire. I, for one, am all for the "just in case" planning in this regard.

Re:Get a life (1)

Aaron Isotton (958761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384879)

Yes, that was 65 million years ago. Way before humanity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous-Tertiary_e xtinction_event [wikipedia.org]

"Just in case" planning for this is just stupid and a waste of time and money. There are many other things (wars, diseases, maybe terrorism) which are much more likely to destroy civilization as we know it. It'd be better to invest more in that than to play Armageddon.

I realize that a single asteroid may wipe out humanity, but the probability that this is what will put an end to civilization is basically zero.

Re:Get a life (3, Funny)

Tenebrarum (887979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384925)

It'd be better to invest more in that than to play Armageddon. That's what the dinosaurs thought, and look where it got them.

Re:Get a life (2, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385019)

You are probably going to die of something other than an automobile accident. Does that mean that the auto industry should stop spending billions on crash tests and safety features (airbags, crumple zones, ABS, seatbelts, etc)? No.

True, there are other, more pressing issues in the world, and so the asteroid thing should be on the back burner, but that does not mean that we should turn the back burner off. People can multi task, so lets do it.

Re:Get a life (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385113)

There are many other things (wars, diseases, maybe terrorism) which are much more likely to destroy civilization as we know it.

Considering how well money has been spent on projects like "the war to end all wars" and the "war on terrorism", I would say that a project to deflect asteroids looks very wise in comparison. Whereas, I agree, the research on diseases is an important and underfunded domain (yes, I'll consider it underfunded as long as I have a life expectancy inferior to two centuries). Anyway, it's "just" a few millions dollars spent on watching pebbles in the sky, an activity that could be useful and do no harm, and it goes back into the economy anyway...

Re:Get a life (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386583)

yes, I'll consider it underfunded as long as I have a life expectancy inferior to two centuries

The elite of the Renaissance spent the wealth of nations funding alchemists who promised to discover the Elixer of Life; throwing money at a problem will not cause a 300% increase in our adult lifespan.

Re:Get a life (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387425)

The elite of the Renaissance spent the wealth of nations funding alchemists who promised to discover the Elixer of Life; throwing money at a problem will not cause a 300% increase in our adult lifespan.

Maybe not, but I wish I could write grant proposals like that.

Re:Get a life (3, Funny)

leenks (906881) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384999)

Oh come on - how crazy do you have to be to think this is true? Everyone knows there were no dinosaurs! Fossils are merely artifacts put there by God to test our faith. Don't you "scientist" types know *anything*?

Yeah, but... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385291)

...with the budget they're using, they could probably buy at least one cup of coffee for everyone in the world. Now how can you justify it?

Insurance (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385469)

It's called `insurance' or `risk management.' While it's true that insurance companies tend to get cast in a negative light because, well, their accountability and complexities are terrible and they tend to screw people over, the having of insurance is still important. Just because the odds of something occuring are small doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan for the possibility of disaster. We had the dinosaur extinction, and we've had near-earth impacts that have wiped out hundreds of thousands of square miles of life. Planning for the possibility of a disaster before it happens--especially if it's one that doesn't trumpet its impending arrival--can save countless lives at a reduced cost. It's worth it to save civilization.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't be smart about it, though. Reasonable standards. Accountability. Intelligent Auditing.

Re:Get a life (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385607)

Take the previous poster's link to the U. Arizona website, http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ [slashdot.org] ">ImpactE ffects, plug in some numbers, take the averages for density, angle of impact, and verlocity, and get the following results at 200KM/124 Miles: (this would be what happens in Pittsburgh/Philly if you splat Harrisburg)

Dense rock, 500M, sedimentary hit: not a lot at 124 miles, at 62 miles 2nd degree burns and trees ignite Dense rock, 1000M, sedimentary hit: at 124 miles same as 62 miles above. at 62 miles clothes, plywood, trees, grass ignite, non-reinforced buildings destroyed from mixture of seismic and overpressure Comet, 1000M, sedimentary hit: at 124 miles not so much building damage, but clothes, etc, catch fire and 90% of trees blown down.

You'll also notice that all of these energies are around 150 Gigatons, which is substantially larger than anything we ever set off. Further effects will include airborne particulates which will shade the sun, probably causing crop failures. We'll also note that a 1KM rock impact will basically flatten an area the size of PA, upstate NY, and western MD. A big comet hit will still cause 2nd degree burns out to at least Columbus and NYC, as well as structural and agricultural damage.

That's why we care. The probability is low, but the damage is (excuse me) astronomical, and we know it's happened before. Tunguska really should be all the reason we need to keep track of these things. A comet (probably) like Tunguska is actually preferable, since it isn't going to throw nearly as much ejecta into the atmosphere. You'll remember the cooler summers we got after Pinatubo; a big stone or Ni/Fe meteorite is going to be an order of magnitude worse.

Re:Get a life (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386477)

>How crazy do you have to be to think that an asteroid is a real threat for humankind? *shakes head*

You have to be crazy enough to realize that civilization is more fragile than the species is, and crazy enough to realize that if an explosion the size of Tunguska or even smaller goes off near the India-Pakistan border the world will be breathing radioactive fallout for years.

You also have to be crazy enough to do basic math and work out the odds of intolerable damage on a time scale of hundreds or thousands of years. Doing correct math in front of people is widely considered evidence of craziness, to be sure.

Riffing off Tunguska (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387313)

You bring up a valid point, but it actually raises more questions than answers, IMO.

  1. The NASA program isn't set up to detect asteroids small enough to "only" cause a Tunguska event.
  2. If we did detect it before it happened, it would probably be with only enough time to evacuate the area. Which is a lot better than doing nothing, mind you.
  3. What kind of overreaction would there be if the world knew a Tunguska-size asteroid was heading our way?

Should we worry about that other 10%? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384787)

"cataloging and characterizing' 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer (3,200 feet) wide by 2008."

There will always be 'unknowns' and some will also hit earth.

And, how about that yet undiscovered comet that WILL also hit earth?

Yes, this solution is better than none, but we still will not be covered.

http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384917)

1 km could be a civilisation killer? don't think so: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ [arizona.edu]

Your Inputs:
        Distance from Impact: 250.00 km = 155.25 miles
        Projectile Diameter: 1000.00 m = 3280.00 ft = 0.62 miles
        Projectile Density: 3000 kg/m3
        Impact Velocity: 40.00 km/s = 24.84 miles/s
        Impact Angle: 80 degrees
        Target Density: 2500 kg/m3
        Target Type: Sedimentary Rock

Energy:
        Energy before atmospheric entry: 1.26 x 1021 Joules = 3.00 x 105 MegaTons TNT
        The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth during the last 4 billion years is 1.8 x 106years

Atmospheric Entry:
        The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 67700 meters = 222000 ft
        The projectile reaches the ground in a broken condition. The mass of projectile strikes the surface at velocity 39.8 km/s = 24.7 miles/s
        The impact energy is 1.25 x 1021 Joules = 2.98 x 105MegaTons.
        The broken projectile fragments strike the ground in an ellipse of dimension 1.1 km by 1.08 km

Major Global Changes:
        The Earth is not strongly disturbed by the impact and loses negligible mass.
        The impact does not make a noticeable change in the Earth's rotation period or the tilt of its axis.
        The impact does not shift the Earth's orbit noticeably.

Crater Dimensions:
        What does this mean?

        Crater shape is normal in spite of atmospheric crushing; fragments are not significantly dispersed.

        Transient Crater Diameter: 17.2 km = 10.7 miles
        Transient Crater Depth: 6.08 km = 3.77 miles

        Final Crater Diameter: 25 km = 15.5 miles
        Final Crater Depth: 0.78 km = 0.484 miles

        The crater formed is a complex crater.
        The volume of the target melted or vaporized is 10.9 km3 = 2.62 miles3
        Roughly half the melt remains in the crater , where its average thickness is 47.1 meters = 154 feet

        Thermal Radiation:
                What does this mean?

                Time for maximum radiation: 0.54 seconds after impact

                Visible fireball radius: 16.6 km = 10.3 miles
                The fireball appears 15.1 times larger than the sun
                Thermal Exposure: 6.78 x 106 Joules/m2
                Duration of Irradiation: 280 seconds
                Radiant flux (relative to the sun): 24.2 (Flux from a burner on full at a distance of 10 cm)

                Effects of Thermal Radiation:

                            Much of the body suffers third degree burns

                            Newspaper ignites

                            Plywood flames

                            Deciduous trees ignite

                            Grass ignites

        Seismic Effects:
                What does this mean?

                The major seismic shaking will arrive at approximately 50 seconds.
                Richter Scale Magnitude: 8.3
                Mercalli Scale Intensity at a distance of 250 km:

                            VI. Felt by all, many frightened. Some heavy furniture moved; a few instances of fallen plaster. Damage slight.

                            VII. Damage negligible in buildings of good design and construction; slight to moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or badly designed structures; some chimneys broken.

        Ejecta:
                What does this mean?

                The ejecta will arrive approximately 231 seconds after the impact.
                Average Ejecta Thickness: 4.98 cm = 1.96 inches
                Mean Fragment Diameter: 1.43 cm = 0.564 inches

        Air Blast:
                What does this mean?

                The air blast will arrive at approximately 758 seconds.
                Peak Overpressure: 45800 Pa = 0.458 bars = 6.5 psi
                Max wind velocity: 91.4 m/s = 205 mph
                Sound Intensity: 93 dB (May cause ear pain)
                Damage Description:

                            Multistory wall-bearing buildings will collapse.

                            Wood frame buildings will almost completely collapse.

                            Glass windows will shatter.

                            Up to 90 percent of trees blown down; remainder stripped of branches and leaves.

Re:http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385697)

Effects of Thermal Radiation:
Much of the body suffers third degree burns
Newspaper ignites
Plywood flames


Oh no! I don't mind the newspaper; I already read it. But my plywood will burn! O the humanity!

Re:http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18386029)

I see that we do indeed have problems with what is up there in space. Do you have a calculation on the impact that occurs in an ocean? I read that we do know of at least a couple of asteroids nearby.

Civilization (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386413)

That megatonnage is equivalent to a few thousand Trident submarines. Granted that most of it is wasted making ground zero even more incandescent, but a lot of the ejecta and the smoke from incinerated cities will stay in the atmosphere and create a non-nuclear "nuclear winter". Plus odds are 2-1 that it will hit an ocean, and remember that most of the world's population lives near coastlines. Ocean strikes are also more effective at coupling impact energy into the atmosphere.

At least we'd have spectacular sunsets for a while.

Re:http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387857)

Take a closer look at the data, and read between the lines:
3*10^5 megatons== More than all nukes of the world together.

In that distance (250km), its enough radiation to set everything but a swamp to fire.
-> you get half a million km^2 of burning land.
Add to this the evaporation of km^3 of crust material, and you will increase the particle density in the stratosphere by orders of magnitudes.
Nuclear winter, anybody?

if the boulder hits a ocean (likely), the water vapour would do that job nicely, too.
Also the tsunamis would be "deep impacts" style -> EVERY coaster city on the respective ocean will be gone without trace. All other cities will still get enough wave by just what can squeez through. Also, "coastal" has to be taken with a grain of salt, because waves of such an impact could easily travel inland for 100-200 km.

Even LA, SF, and tokyo wiped of the face of the earth alone would create the fall of civilisation as we know it (speak about trillions of investment money being vaporized in a second).

such an event would likely kill 100M-1B people the first hours, and at least half the human population during the aftermath.

That counts as end of civilisation, to me.

Re:http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388703)

And of course, helpfully omitted from that analysis was atmospheric dust, which is the real civilization ending threat.

The converse... (1, Funny)

SethHoyt (1024709) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384953)

The same technology used to deflect asteroids away from Earth can be used to steer them towards us. Who would want to do that? Well, the military, terrorist groups, anyone with the financial backing and desire to destroy entire regions of the planet. In my estimation, we're more likely to be struck by an asteroid intentionally directed here than by chance.

It would actually be much cheaper to redirect an asteroid for this purpose than it would be to acquire and deliver nuclear weapons. Another reason this may be desirable to the military is that they can pretend they have nothing to do with it. Whenever an asteroid is detected that has the potential to strike Earth, there is no way to know whether the final trajectory was influenced artificially, as long as it stays within the predicted range. Very small changes in an asteroid's trajectory can make the difference between a near-miss and a direct hit.

Although I think it's important for us to be prepared for a potential collision with an asteroid, we must also ensure that the technology does not fall into the wrong hands. If NASA indeed gains the capability to deflect an asteroid, there should be no excuse for one that somehow "falls through" the system. I think that any organization with this capability must be accountable for any future impact, regardless of where it occurs and who it affects.

Re:The converse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18384979)

Uhm, no. You're saying that anyone who could make a dart miss the bullseye of a dartboard could just as well make a dart that is headed for the wall hit dead center.

Re:The converse... (1)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18384989)

Im sorry, but after reading your first paragraph i really must ask:

Are you doing crack?

Re:The converse... (2, Insightful)

Oswald (235719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385133)

This is an interesting case. Naturally, your first response to OP's allegation that some people in the government would intentionally risk causing the end of humanity is: Nobody is crazy enough to do that. But then it hits you: Obviously this bozo is.

So now I don't know exactly what to think.

Re:The converse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385461)

It's a far-reaching scenario, but the government hasn't done a shred of work to deserve the trust you seem to place in them to "at least have that border they'll never cross"; actually, they've shown quite the opposite.
There is nothing insane about the OPs claim that this might have a military application. It's just not an efficient one, and involves a hell of a lot of work and resources, but if it IS doable, then you can be sure the 'think tanks' have already made some sort of "absolutely insane, who would ever do such a horrid thing?" report on it.

Re:The converse... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386689)

It's a far-reaching scenario, but the government hasn't done a shred of work to deserve the trust you seem to place in them to "at least have that border they'll never cross"; actually, they've shown quite the opposite.

the United States has detonated exactly two WMDs in anger. This was done so because the projected loss of life from the war it averted was significantly higher than that of the WMD attack. And the gov't took immediate claim for it, just as they've taken immediate claim for any major military action for their entire history.

My government has given us plenty of data to determine its range of potential options. Even the worst excesses of the current administration are not beyond the bounds of what Lincoln, Grant, or Roosevelt did; they're done for far sillier reasons, but still fall within the same range of action.

Re:The converse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18388513)

Wow - are you sure it was EXACTLY two? What a cretin. What a dumbass word to use, to minimise the HOLOCAUSTS of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Real holocausts, that is, unlike the 'Holycause').
Funny how nobody's been put in prison for merely questioning the numbers killed at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, isn't it? But then I guess the Japanese don't infiltrate white people's countries, pretend to BE white people, and then take power and enact laws to keep us 'goyim' in our place...
Those poor, powerless Jews... I wonder how they manage? What with them deciding the borders policy of EVERY white country on earth, flooding our countries with non-white third world parasites, so that we can never rise up against the parasitic Jews ever again.
Next thing they'll be telling us, (through the media), that they don't own almost all the media in white countries!

Bringing Them *Closer* (1)

evought (709897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386811)

This is an interesting case. Naturally, your first response to OP's allegation that some people in the government would intentionally risk causing the end of humanity is: Nobody is crazy enough to do that. But then it hits you: Obviously this bozo is.

So now I don't know exactly what to think.

Well, unfortunately, I think the GP is not the only crazy that would think like this. There are a lot of extremists out there that think the Earth needs a good cleansing and are not afraid to die themselves. Whether they could ever get their hands on an asteroid steering system is another question.

Crazies aside, there is a good reason to steer an NEO closer to Earth. It would make a great resource if it could be coaxed into orbit, especially if it contained smeltable metals or was big enough to serve as a platform for a space station. Lifting materials into orbit is hellishly expensive. If we have to redirect an asteroid, figuring out how to do it with precision could be worth quite a lot. Start by forcing it into an elliptical orbit and adjust from there.

Hey (2, Funny)

okinawa_hdr (1062664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385055)

I've seen Armageddon and it just isn't possible unless you bring in the world's best deep core oil drillers, ok?

Why not use it? (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385137)

Since launching materials in space costs money, why not mine these potential resources and milk them for all they are worth? Lots of iron, water, and other useful minerals can be extracted. Need a radiation and particle shield for the space station? Tow that rock on over there and latch onto it! Those rocks are floating gold mines in space.

Re:Why not use it? (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385185)

Great Idea, but we wouldn't even have to tow it (given enough lead time) if we just built a rocket engine pointing "downwards" and fuel it with the hydrogen and oxygen we extract from the (presumed) water ice? Then it could be pointed anywhere... 8)

Re:Why not use it? (1)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385225)

There are many different kinds of asteroid. Some are ore-bearing, but some are just rock with a negligible mineral content.

Re:Why not use it? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386065)

Since launching materials in space costs money, why not mine these potential resources and milk them for all they are worth?

Oh, I have no doubts asteroid mining will one day be a huge driving force for the commercialization of space. Once it's practical and cost effective, we'll do it. But regardless of the value of an asteroid's material composition, it is decidedly *not* useful if it's headed right for us on a collision course. Nudging such an asteroid just enough to be captured into Earth orbit rather than smacking in to us might be possible/a good idea some day, but it's well beyond our present-day capabilities.

Re:Why not use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18387903)

If we can latch onto it and tow it where ever we want, then keeping it from hitting earth if we know where it is is a piece of cake.

You submitted your post about 100 years too early.

Asteroid Radar System? (2, Interesting)

vbwyrde (1047816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385173)

I've always wondered if we could create a device that does the following:
1. Go into a position above the plane on which the planets rotate around the sun so it looks "down" on the solar system.
2. flash a bright light of a specified color every day at a certain time.
3. read back the ping signature of the solar system's objects with a light sensitive camera.
4. plug the changes into a computer.
5. calculate trajectories of all objects.
6. determine exactly which ones are on a bee-line for earth.
7. continue to monitor for any surprises.
8. focus on those objects that show they will come close to earth for deflection.

Is this possible to do? Or am I missing a fundamental something-or-other? Thanks.

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385355)

Asteroid Radar System? Sounds like a half ARSed idea to me...

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18385361)

A - The "positon" wouldn't be stationary relative to the sun/solar system, the camera would be in orbit around the sun unless it was very far away
B - light doesn't travel instantaneously so the ping reflections would be spread out over many hours

If we had an enegy source to overcome "A", holding a telescope stationary in the described position, blasting the asteroid out of existance with a High-energy laser probably wouldn't be a problem either (grin)

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (1)

vbwyrde (1047816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386939)

A - I suppose the position of the satellite would not have to be stationary so long as it's position could be determined with accuracy so that as the position changes the data could be correlated to the actual positions of the objects being tracked. It could be set in orbit around the sun. The objective of getting off the planetary orbit plane is to get an overview shot so that the sun, earth and moon would not obscure the view of asteroids. The photographic equipment, of course, would have to incorporate something to block out the sun's light at the center of the image. My assumption here being that most asteroids (the vast percentage) are in the planetary orbital plane, so getting a comprehensive view would require being above the plane looking "down". Also, the satellite would have to be sufficiently far away to get a good view, and the recording equipment would need to be sufficiently sensitive to detect relatively small objects. B - Yes, the ping reflections would take some hours for more distant objects so the recording equipment would need to take that into account. However, since the ping occurs once per day it should not be a problem to collect the data, and then transmit the results once per day.

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (1)

drgruney (1077007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385717)

Dude... the Universe is flat. It rests on the back of a giant turtle.

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (2, Informative)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385855)

Well, the inverse square law plus the low albedo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albedo/ [wikipedia.org] ) of http://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full/2002/39/aah3 638/aah3638.right.html/ [aanda.org] most asteroids would necessitate an incredibly bright "light". Anyone feel like whipping out a napkin to do some calculations? I doubt if the visible spectrum would be better than radio wavelengths (after all, we're mainly after large objects, right?). I wonder what the design restrictions would be for a radar which has to wait several hours for an echo would be: I'd guess a fluorescent screen wouldn't be optimal! :-)

To improve results, you'd like to have at least two or preferably more observation points. Looking at NEO asteroid orbits http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits// [nasa.gov] projected onto the ecliptic is a scary sight. Looking at them in three dimensions is rather more reassuring.

Right now, I'd guess that Earth-based telescopes are the more economical alternative: easier to service, no pesky problem with energy supply or orbital station keeping. One drawback is that we need longer series of observations in order to resolve asteroidal orbits: hence the recurring "alarm bells" when a newly discovered asteroid rates high on the Palermo or Torino scales, only to be downgraded once more observations are matched to it.

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (1)

vbwyrde (1047816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387015)

Thanks for the thoughts. What about just taking a motion picture of the objects as they move. Perhaps by doing a kind of strobe effect, say one pulse per second for one minute? This should provide something like a dash-dot effect so that speed and trajectory could be calculated. As for the visible light, I see what you mean. Perhaps radio waves at various frequencies? As for the economic factor - Earth-based telescopes are more economic unless they do not do the job sufficiently and as a result we get hit with a major asteroid - that would dampen the economy considerably. Thus, the cost of setting up a good system would be outweighed by the cost of failing to do so - if we were to get hit. Anyway, my thinking is that it would probably be worth the investment to get a reliable space object tracking system up. On the other hand, if ground past telescopes are sufficient then we should probably stick with it. I would just hate to miss something though, so it seems like a comprehensive tracking system would be the safest bet, even if expensive.

Re:Asteroid Radar System? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18386225)

Being outside the plane of the ecliptic is not a significant advantage. If we could see them from outside the solar system, then we can already see them from Earth (or Earth orbit).

Also, how would you prevent your spacecraft from falling into the Sun?

I have faith in NASA for this mission (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385175)

Crashing into things is their speciality. However this gravity satellite is a bit fluffy. Since they seem to place money into the equasion, I say let the managers sit on the surface and count the pennies since thats obviously way more important than their asses.

Re:I have faith in NASA for this mission (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387171)

There's nothing fluffy about a gravity-satellite. Except that their vision has only one, directly above the asteroid.

Since they're continuous thrusters, gravity tug doctrine should be to put the tug in halo orbit, and put more than one. Many relatively small launches are easier than one big launch after all, and they can be replaced as they fail without losing 100% thrust. The orbit would also mean that the exhaust would be less obscured by the payload.

The real question (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385323)

Are we going to stop it _BEFORE_ or _AFTER_ it destroys Paris? Also, 15-30 years is a bit longer than usual, it normally only takes 112 minutes or so..

Funding? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385353)

Who's going to fund this, and does that organization immediately become the supreme planetary overlords for having successfully saved the entire planet from complete destruction?

Bruce Willis (2, Funny)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385377)

Come on, all we need is 3 weeks and Bruce Willis and his drilling buddies to defeat any asteroid. Geez, don't any of you watch the historical videos?

Re:Bruce Willis (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385923)

Ya know, Armageddon (the movie) [wikipedia.org] cost about $140 million to make. For that same budget, we probably could have finished a very good survey of any Near-Earth Asteroids, create a detailed mitigation plan, and start building prototype hardware to send up. You probably could even get Jerry Bruckheimer to film an overly dramatic documentary filled with lots of sound effects in space and slow-mo hero scenes.

Re:Bruce Willis (1)

tbischel (862773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387545)

Do you think you could get movie goers to shell out $553,709,788 to watch said documentary, which they would later lambast as the unholy spawn of The Dirty Dozen and Con Air? No? Well then, maybe Armageddon was money well spent.

Re:Bruce Willis (1)

PaulDineen (834325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386111)

"Geez, don't any of you watch the historical videos?" You meant to say "the historical records" (http://imdb.com/title/tt0177789/ [Galaxy Quest]) Also, there's a fatal weakness in in the "Armageddon" arguments put forth here -- no assurance that Bruce Willis will still be alive thirty or so years henceforth (Long May He Live).

Ignoring objects 1km across? (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385427)

Are they ignoring potential threats less than 1km in diameter? Are we to believe that an asteroid 999 meters in diameter will be harmless? Such folly! Perhaps NASA will make a meters / feet conversion error and we'll all be screwed.

Re:Ignoring objects 1km across? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18386153)

It's hard to find 90% of >1km asteroids without finding a sizeable fraction of >500m too, so by setting this one goal they actually achieve a lot more.

Re:Ignoring objects 1km across? (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387837)

They're going for 90% of all bodies 1 km across. They don't ignore smaller bodies (indeed, many have been found), it's just that a) smaller bodies are harder to see and b) there's way, way more of them. So for example, you might have 90% of 1 km bodies, 60% of all 900 m bodies, 30% of all 800 m bodies, and so on. Whatever the actual numbers are (I just made those up to illustrate the point), the goal is to locate the civilization-enders first, with progressively less threatening bodies being located later.

stupid idea from NASA (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385629)

NASA has to make it more difficult than it has to be...

a plausable idea would be to use a nuclear bomb, not to destroy the asteroid or meteor but to detonate the bomb before it gets too close leaving the asteroid or meteor mostly intact, the blast wave from the bomb can be strong enough to push it out of the way...

Re:stupid idea from NASA (1)

SteveM (11242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386401)

... the blast wave from the bomb can be strong enough to push it out of the way...

And what exactly does this blast wave consist of? The ether? Phlogiston? Cowboy Neal?

SteveM

track .... line it up and ....fire (1)

ashwinds (743227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18385819)

Ooops - wrong direction.....

A few more ideas for NASA... (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386221)

A few more ideas....

1) Assuming at least some of these asteroids will be passing Earth before they come back 100+ years from now (or however long) and then actually hit the Earth. Why not, as they are passing by, specifically as they have *passed* the Earth, nuke them from behind?

2) Same idea as #1, but instead get some modified HUGE rockets with robotic modifications to fly up to the asteroid, and then auto-magically grapple onto the 'Earth/rock' base of the asteroid, and then tilt to a different direction & fire the engines in a different direction, thereby 'flying' the asteroid in a different path... even if only by 0.002 degrees or whatever, that might make all the difference. Depending on the size of the asteroid, you might of course, need anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred or even thousands of these rockets.

3) Implement a Tesla death ray machine on a satellite above Earth's atmosphere (or "Star Wars" defense system). Possibly even a few of these around every planet or moon in the planets around our Galaxy (yeah I know this is not an overnight implementation plan), and then as asteroids are on their way towards or away from Earth - BLAST 'EM! Related links:
Tesla Death Ray: http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_wendwar.html [pbs.org]
Star Wars Defense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Ini tiative [wikipedia.org]

4) How about instead of wasting all those nukes in disarming strategies, hand them all over to the UN, and have the UN work with NASA to ship them all into some outer space orbiting satellites on the moon or better yet, Mars, and then aim them at ASteroids for anti-Armagedon purposes? I suggest Mars, because if that system ever gets hacked and somebody points a missel towards Earth, at least we'll have time to counter-Skud the Nukes.

5) Ship into outer space a few million tonnes of SOLID rock & position it in our own sweet time such that any asteroids coming towards Earth hit that first with the idea of slowing down, possibly shattering or deviating the asteroid (depending on density of rock, shape (i.e. cone with point on end facing asteroid), etc).

6) Same as #5, but attach some propulsion system behind the conned shape rock. Maybe even melt several meters of metal on the tip of the cone to re-enforce it & ensure asteroid gets split in half... then propulsion system slowly but surely accelerates the cone towards the asteroid thereby having an even greater impact and minimize asteroid's success in hitting or hurting the Earth as much.

7) Create about 10,000 solar powered spider like robots (I forget the movie reference now) with drill-heads. Ship said spider robots in a few rockets & have the rockets dump the payload onto the asteroid. Then over the period of however long before it hits Earth, the robots with AI and heat and/or solar power or something-powered will have the mission to drill the astroid into a thousand pieces.

8) Learn how to make little black holes. Create one in the trajectory of the asteroid... and POOF... asteroid gone!

9) Ask our Area 51 alien 'friends' for assistance & more ideas :-D

9.5) Carve out HUGE multi-million or billion tonne stone or ice chunks out of Mars or some future uneeded planet, and propel these chunks in a somewhat controlled fashion BY the asteroid, such that it will distort the trajectory path simply with its own gravitational pull.

10) Get the scientists to hurry the hell up and understand how to project solid matter into Astral planes, and then either with advanced human minds or with machines with the physics to do this, teleport the asteroid out of thin vaccuum (can't be air ;-) into an astral plane where it would not have a physical impact to the Earth.

11) Send rockets up to dump payloads of corrosive acid onto the asteroid such that it deteriorates into a thin mist before hitting Earth.

12) Use several ideas at the same time or all... nuke it, deviate it, laser it, 'cone' it, drill it, black hole it, alien attack it, acid-it :-D

Ok the last few are a bit sci-fi/wishful thinking, but at least I'm trying :-D

Adeptus.

Re:A few more ideas for NASA... (0)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386321)

Book reference for idea #10:
a) The Magus of Strovolos, ISBN#0-140-19034-1
AMAZON REFERENCE: http://www.amazon.com/Magus-Strovolos-Extraordinar y-Spiritual-Healer/dp/0140190341/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/1 04-1078746-3613536?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174147623& sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

b) Reverse proof of concept experience visible today in India. By this I mean that you can see with your own eyes how material from the Astral plane can be materialized on Earth. The reverse is also possible, but due to the witnesses having to be in the Astral plane, it is harder for the average layman to conclude its reality, other than physical things just appearing to dissapear into thin air.
URL: http://www.saibaba.ws/miracles/orphanagemysore.htm [saibaba.ws]

FYI, I've seen B) with my own eyes, and so can you - just travel to Mysore in India. It's no magic trick, it's a surreal reality. essentially a tiny metalic medal, barely bigger than a fingernail has been producing 2 Liters of rose scented honey (edible too) for the past ~25 years, 7 days a week! I know, it sounds whack, but its the only miracle left on Earth that you can witness with your own eyes, and if science can understand the physics behind that... hell, Armagedon doesn't stand a chance.

Adeptus

Re:A few more ideas for NASA... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386679)

heh, there's no end of ways an illusionist could produce your Mysore miracle. it's a hoax, honest.

Re:A few more ideas for NASA... (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387479)

Not when the medal sits on my hand untouched by anyone else for 4 minutes straight producing a volume of liquid over 5 times the size of the medal itself, without the medal deteriorating at all (i.e. some sort of chemical reaction)... AND the output is edible rose scented honey!

I'd like to see you pull that one off.

Adeptus

Re:A few more ideas for NASA... (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387501)

See picture of the 2 medals here, at the top of some person's hand. The medal pours out liquid honey filling the ENTIRE cupped hand (many times the volume of the medal itself), and if you let it sit there it would overflow the hand and start dripping on the floor.

http://www.saibaba.ws/images/miracles/Halagappa2.j pg [saibaba.ws]

Re:A few more ideas for NASA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18387945)

So, where is the (verifiable) video of this oozing stuff? Anybody can take a picture of a "medal" in someone's hand. Get a grip.

Slow it down (1)

Sukaafeisu (953271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386247)

Slow it down so it ends up in our orbit

Launch vehicle? (1)

caffeine_monkey (576033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386437)

Does NASA even have a rocket capable of intercepting an asteroid with something as heavy as a gravity tractor? They have some spare Saturn V rockets sitting around?

What's the hurry? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386525)

The thing about space is that small pushes over long times can work better than splashy big short ones.

Why bomb the asteroid when you could keep ion engines running for decades instead? Or maybe find some point in its orbit where it's going between two heavy bodies and a small change will tip it one way or the other and make a big difference?

Re:What's the hurry? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18386657)

real existing ion engines have thrust appropriate for a small payload over years, a kilometer wide ball of goop is going to need something hugem and detecting a collision fifty or hundred years before it happens isn't possible right now

Re:What's the hurry? (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387237)

The problem is the asteroids are almost always spinning so anything mounted on it what be thrusting in many different directions if on all the time. If, it was only firing part of the time a low thrust ION engine would most likely not do it soon enough. Also, I am not to sure if the on board computers would be able to calculate when to fire.

Note: Stopping the asteroids from spinning is not easy and would take time that may not be available.

Tim S

Funding? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18387167)

I thought NASA was just complaining that it didn't have funding to do something like this.

Was that just a build up to make them look more important when this got released or did they find funding from their Doom and Gloom apropriations aproach?

OR maybe all the discusion NASA not being able to fund [slashdot.org] this exact program was sparked because someone didn't know what was going on? The government doesn't work this fast in approving funding so how could it be possible for them to all the sudden have it now? Especialy when the government has been fixated on losing the Iraq war one way or another?

Meteor (1)

garlicbready (846542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388123)

I think the real question on every one's mind is
by the time we actually discover one of these things on course with the earth
will sean connery still be alive to save the day?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_(film) [wikipedia.org]

The timing of the funding... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18388405)

"In 1998, Congress gave NASA's Spaceguard Survey program a mandate of 'discovering, tracking, cataloging and characterizing' 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer (3,200 feet) wide by 2008. [...]

Interestingly, the movie Armageddon [imdb.com] also came out in 1998...

Pardon me, but I'm skeptical. Earth had no civilization-killing encounters for thousands of years — no, the Tunguska-meteorite does not qualify, not even if it landed in Paris (the center of civilization at the time). The only suspected such encounter is blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs — a while ago...

Yes, it would be nice to not have this threat (especially now, that we almost can), but we must realize, that we perceive it as a much larger one, than it really is. All of the readers of this message (in 2007) have a much higher risk of dying from a new strain of flu, or a spectacular terrorist attack, for example. Or even from getting hit by a truck or choking on a pretzel...

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