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Fraser
2004-Apr-08, 06:24 PM
SUMMARY: Are there any contigencies currently in place to stop an asteroid from hitting if say one was detected to hit within days, weeks, months, years? - Damien Igoe, Alice Springs, Australia

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

Ken
2004-Apr-08, 06:33 PM
Those who could aim an asteroid would have a terrible weapon. Whom would you trust with that capability?

imported_Nick
2004-Apr-09, 07:01 AM
Well thats quite frightening to say the least. Ofcourse there really is nothing that can be done as of now, but for there to be no real emphasis (or is there ?) on producing a real counter measure or better detection system is, for lack of a better word ..deplorable (maybe deplorable is a bit harsh :P).

Should'nt the protection/defence of our home planet be of the foremost concern to, well everyone ?! Why is this issue given so little attention ? Is it because people just dont want to face it ? Are they not worried because such a threat is not able to be defended against according to them ?

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously :unsure: (probably am :D) , or maybe alot of people in important positions dont take this scenario seriously enough. But what could protect us ? Nuclear weapons, laser weapons ? What would be a useful defence against such large (1km plus) asteroids ? Space based orbital defence or land based ?

Thoughts ?

galaxygirl
2004-Apr-09, 03:18 PM
Nick, I have to agree- the issue of our planets safety is to serious to be brushed off like this.

I dont see why we cant just nuke it. The explosion would destroy most of the asteroid, and whatever's left would burn up in the atmosphere.

You'd probably need a big laser to destroy an asteroid... but there's this OSETI project in which people are sending short lazer beams to other stars through a telescope type thing. We could always point it at an astroid if needed, I think.

Yay Damo! You're famous! :D :P

Anthony
2004-Apr-09, 05:16 PM
One of my heavy duty fats would disarem any rock from the sky. Preperation, one week of eating my home made chile!
-AP :lol:

Algenon the mouse
2004-Apr-09, 05:19 PM
I think the greater problem is building an early detection site. Many of the new stellar bodies found are found by amateurs. The professionals miss a great deal. If we knew one was going to hit and when, we would be better prepared to handle it.

bobkee
2004-Apr-09, 08:32 PM
Does anyone remember the details of the asteroid/object that passed between the moon's orbit and earth sometime last year? That event was considered a bit of a near miss, no? If I recall correctly, it was fairly large and was only observed after it had whizzed merrily by on its way into infinity. Perhaps I'm mistaken about the aforementioned, the old cerebral cortex ain't what it use to be.

By the way, if given enough time and distance, nudgeing an asteroid away from a collision course with earth by setting off shaped charges provides much better control of the consequences of our actions. The effects of a nuclear blast would be very difficult to predict and could potentially still allow some major debris to continue toward an impact with earth. The real trick is to detect those suckers far, far away. Our track record has not been too good along those lines. All it takes is commitment and...MONEY.

The general public would probably better support space development if they understood and valued the need for a practical capability like collision avoidance. The problem I guess is raising the public's awareness that it doesn't take a monster size object to cause potential devastation and extinction of life as we know it. Last year's "near miss" so to speak, was a lost opportunity to have raised such awareness. If only a bigger deal had been made by NASA and friends!

Eventually, a ready trained fleet of space vehicles designed to act additionally as deep space interceptors would be a lovely thing to behold. Expensive but nonetheless lovely. Is NASA considering such potential capabilities in the next generation of vehicles? I haven't heard any mention.

Oh well. "Lucifer's Hammer" anyone?

Nick4
2004-Apr-09, 11:52 PM
Thats a good question i hop we have some idea of what to do.

bobkee
2004-Apr-12, 04:18 PM
I don't think so, Nick, based upon the previous posts and Fraser's observations. The whole concept of an asteroid impact threat, as well as the preventive steps within our technological means to improve the survival chances for all "us eggs in one basket", would make a great A&E, Discovery or National Geographic episode, no?

Remember when we had to suffer through all the UFO specials that were run on cable a while back? Oy! You would think that asteroid impact topic would be an eye catcher for the general public. The show's creators could begin with special effects demonstrating the dinosaur extinctions, move onto more "modern" impact info and work up to the "comet" impact in Russia at the beginning of the 20th Century. Various scenarios and discussions for preventing future potential devestations could make great special effects as well. NASA must have a budget for promoting its efforts. They could help foot part of the the bill for such an undertaking.

Sizzle can be just as important as steak!

Mettalica1
2004-Apr-28, 07:20 PM
I am going to go along with nick 4 on this one i also hope we would know what to do :o

Peter Gaffney
2004-May-29, 06:05 PM
There's really no danger of an asteroid strike until their current contract expires in 2007.

mike boggan
2004-May-30, 12:09 PM
You guys don't really seem serious about asteriods.
Governments and Scientists have the same attitude as well.
The reason we don't have a dedicated asteroid watch is because of Statistical analysis.
It has been determined that a big strike is so rare that it is ignored as a 1 in 300 million chance, or something like that.
Thats why most Professional Astronomers don't waste thier time with it.
The asteroid that just missed us last year was the size of a house, and could have caused major damage if it had struck.
It was found by an Amateur, after it passed us.
It passed so close that it intersected the Hubble telescopes orbit, 400 miles up.
We were very lucky.
It would have showed up on Norad's radar as it passed easily.
The thing about statistical analysis is averages. The mean time between impacts.
But, two or more could strike us within days or months of each other without any warning. Why? because only a few people are looking for them.
Everything is run using statistical analysis, Insurance, banking, crime, everything....
It's all Bull.......
Mike

antoniseb
2004-May-30, 12:19 PM
Originally posted by mike boggan@May 30 2004, 12:09 PM
The asteroid that just missed us last year was the size of a house, and could have caused major damage if it had struck.
Actually, the thinking is that an asteroid the size of a house would not do significant damage. It would probably disintegrate in the atmosphere. Bits of it would hit the ground at a few hundred miles an hour as cooling rubble.

Going a little further with your thesis here, I think the majority on this forum are pretty serious about asteroids. There's been quite a bit of discussion about how to find them and what to do about them. You're pretty new here [welcome!], so you probably haven't had time to really look around yet.

om@umr.edu
2004-May-31, 03:18 AM
Originally posted by fraser@Apr 8 2004, 06:24 PM
SUMMARY: Are there any contigencies currently in place to stop an asteroid from hitting if say one was detected to hit within days, weeks, months, years? - Damien Igoe, Alice Springs, Australia

Fraser,

A group has been discussing this issue for several months on the Cambridge Conference Forum.

The moderator is Benny Peiser <cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk>

The White House or the Science Advisor to the President should be able to provide an answer to this question.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

damienpaul
2004-May-31, 11:50 AM
Fraser, do you want to emil this contact very kindly supplied by Dr. Manuel? or shall I?

GOURDHEAD
2004-May-31, 12:50 PM
My choice for protecting against asteroid and comets is to place a power beam generator sufficiently close to the sun and in a polar orbit about the sun to generate 10^+18 or so watts in a highly collimated beam. The beam can be directed to the potentially colliding object and deflect its course both by the beam's force and the "rocket-like" expulsion of material from its beam heated surface.

If we start now we can have the system operational in about 150 years by which time we may need several power beam generators to supply the energy no longer available from dwindling fossil fuels....especially if global cooling sets in. Robust systems for interstellar travel and earth protection will take 150 or more years to emplace and make operational. We must employ much longer range planning to cope with the events of the next 1000 years!! Our very survival is in the balance!!

Although it is essential that we detect these things as far out as as possible, note that this system can reach such objects at the speed of light from the beam generator and deflect those detected much closer than we would have liked.

A start at a description of such a system is here (http://home.comcast.net/~mbmcneill7/)

MrEase
2004-Oct-10, 05:48 AM
[B]Why not try synchronizing four laser guided rockets with a heat resistant and specially reinforced bungee netting attached that migh at least push off course or slow the rate of an eminent impact depending on the time given?

GOURDHEAD
2004-Oct-10, 08:31 PM
The contemplation of asteroid strikes brings out my paranoia hence my interest in the subject is easily aroused. The beginnings of an operational concept for interstellar transportation that also provides the asteroid collision avoidance fix can be found here (http://home.comcast.net/~mbmcneill7/). The frightening aspect of this is that it will take from 150 to 200 years to design, build, and emplace this or any equivalently robust system even if we begin now and proceed with sharp focus and great zest.

Currently the most difficult scenario to deal with would be a previously undetected asteroid of the size that wiped out the dinosaurs approaching the earth from the direction of the sun making it hard to detect soon enough to determine its orbit sufficiently accurately to know what remedial action to take (where to place the charge ad how big it should be for beneficial trajectory modification). By the time we prepare (select from those available at the time) a rocket with a payload capable of accomplishing the desired trajectory modification, subdue the hysterical anti-nuclear extremists, and launch the deterrant, we will be dealing with a very small window of probability of success.

Fast forwarding 200 years to when a system equal to or better than the one linked to above is available, we could handle the described scenario. The power beam generator located as near to the sun as we are clever enough to do to generate the 10^18 watts can be controlled to direct the beam (this also makes it a hazard in the hands of terrorists) to divert asteroids of a great range of masses. [We can always hypothesize that there may be one large enough to defeat the system; even so by elimnating those we can, our survival is well served. The good news is that one so large will be discovered earlier than the smaller ones and we can divert it over a longer time interval.] The most direct approach at diversion would be to direct the beam to places on the asteroid's surface to create "continuous explosions of material" for which the reaction force will drive the asteroid in the desired direction. Obviously the beam energy will be travelling at the speed of light so late discoveries, setting aside hazardous alignments with earth in the beam, won't be such a problem. My guess is such a system could significantly deflect objects up to the size of the moon since we would probably have a year or so to apply the beam after discovery of the hazard and computation of the trajectory altering needed. Note that the beam can be a useful tool to deter any hostile aliens which case I hope never occurs.

Until the more robust system is available, we need to orbit observation networks capable of detecting asteroids coming from all directions and keep a deterrant rocket locked and loaded. Survival can get to be hard work at times!!

astromark
2004-Oct-10, 09:53 PM
:blink: Only the foolish would discribe this subject, or the interest in it as Paranoia.
I recall that during 2003 a resonably large asteroid passed the earth from behind the sun. It was undetected untill it was right on us... fortunatly it passed more than one and a half lunar distances from us and was less than one kilometre across. The point being that had it been on a colission track and bigger. It would have been an issue of considerable impact.
This is not a subject we should ignorr. This is in my view the most urgent task of nasa ... To protect the envirioment. me, you, all of us... now, right away at any cost. We should learn from history. It has all ready happened. At least four times. It will happen again and we dont know when. Now thats paranoia, and I&#39;m guilty of it. :(

wstevenbrown
2004-Oct-10, 09:54 PM
Cure for paranoia: the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him your friend. We shouldn&#39;t be concentrating on pushing away /destrying earth-crossing asteroids, we should be CAPTURING THEM AS RESOURCES&#33;&#33;&#33; As both sober scientists and fictioneers have pointed out for over half a century, materials captured for use from space cost less by a factor of 200 to 1000 than those that have to be lifted through the gravity well. Even if metals were only available in trace amounts(wildly unlikely), the savings in water and CHON materials alone would justify the effort. Have we lost sight of this? Challenge = opportunity, always. Even bitter enemies would cooperate in obtaining shareable resources for mutual benefit. Regards, Steve

GOURDHEAD
2004-Oct-11, 01:57 PM
Cure for paranoia: the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him your friend. We shouldn&#39;t be concentrating on pushing away /destrying earth-crossing asteroids, we should be CAPTURING THEM AS RESOURCES&#33;&#33;&#33;

Excellent attitude and very constructive&#33; However, it&#39;s much easier thought of than done. The farther away an object is when the deflection forces are applied the easier and less energetic the process will have to be to avoid earth collision. Capture, although highly desirable, is orders of magnitude more difficult. We may be a 1000 years or more away from that capability unless we count diverting them to the moon or another rocky planet. We may wish to divert the more troublesome repeaters into the sun to simplify the herding.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Oct-13, 05:10 PM
In response to email from wstevenbrown focussing on the smaller objects and asuming there is a broader interest:

Your category of pebbles (large enough to penetrate the atmosphere but not exceeding several kilometers in volume and a density of 5) could cause great damage if they get through our defenses and land say dead center at a prominent capital such as Washington D.C. My guess is that in the next several hundred years even these itsy bitsy objects would be extremely difficult to capture but easy to deflect especially if we have the power beam generator. Capture, on the other hand, means we have to nullify their kinetic energy sufficiently to store them in earth orbit as opposed to causing a minor change in their direction leaving the kinetic energy essentially unchanged. Carefully "aiming" them into "safe" areas on the moon&#39;s surface is a feasible method of capture provided we take the necessary precautions for altering the moon&#39;s orbit by such continuous bombardment.

As we develop inhabitable sites on Mercury, Mars, and the larger moons with tenuous atmospheres, our asteroid defense system will have to protect these sites as well and from the lesser massive objects. A power beam relay station may have to be located near Jupiter or Saturn to avoid the time delays commensurate with the speed of light at which the energy travels to get there from the sun--over 40 minutes to Jupiter, over 80 minutes to Saturn.

wstevenbrown
2004-Oct-13, 07:16 PM
I really should think more before posting, Gourdhead. You&#39;re right, the energy cost would be prohibitive-- for interloper objects from the outside, supercomets and so forth. I really think it&#39;s practical, though to deflect Aten-class asteroids, whose average orbital speed/energy is close to Earth&#39;s anyhow, into the Lagrange points of Luna&#39;s orbit for later use. Man the defenses, though for big stuff from outside&#33; Thanks-- Steve

Algenon the mouse
2004-Oct-14, 12:17 AM
Originally posted by wstevenbrown@Oct 10 2004, 09:54 PM
Cure for paranoia: the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him your friend. We shouldn&#39;t be concentrating on pushing away /destrying earth-crossing asteroids, we should be CAPTURING THEM AS RESOURCES&#33;&#33;&#33; As both sober scientists and fictioneers have pointed out for over half a century, materials captured for use from space cost less by a factor of 200 to 1000 than those that have to be lifted through the gravity well. Even if metals were only available in trace amounts(wildly unlikely), the savings in water and CHON materials alone would justify the effort. Have we lost sight of this? Challenge = opportunity, always. Even bitter enemies would cooperate in obtaining shareable resources for mutual benefit. Regards, Steve
Good idea but I would like to know your plan for capturing an asteriod. It is always easier to destroy then to build.....or capture.

gofree
2005-Jun-19, 03:25 AM
Originally posted by Ken@Apr 8 2004, 06:33 PM
Those who could aim an asteroid...
Any body for a game of pool? Stem cell research, nuclar bombs...what prevents an atempt to change the trajector of one?

GOURDHEAD
2005-Jun-19, 12:02 PM
what prevents an atempt to change the trajectory of one? Not being in the right place at the right time with the right stuff.