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Re: Wanted: Volunteer to land on asteroid, nudge it away from Earth

Subject: Re: Wanted: Volunteer to land on asteroid, nudge it away from Earth
From: "Hey American Moron!"
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2006 03:02:17 -0600
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
Dont let MediaCom in on this. Just more excuse to raise rates.


Kickin' Ass and Takin' Names wrote:

> It is the stuff of nightmares and, until now, Hollywood thrillers. A
> huge asteroid is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth and
> mankind is poised to go the way of the dinosaurs.
> To save the day, Nasa now plans to go where only Bruce Willis has gone
> before. The US space agency is drawing up plans to land an astronaut on
> an asteroid hurtling through space at more than 30,000 mph. It wants to
> know whether humans could master techniques needed to deflect such a
> doomsday object when it is eventually identified. The proposals are at
> an early stage, and a spacecraft needed just to send an astronaut that
> far into space exists only on the drawing board, but they are deadly
> serious. A smallish asteroid called Apophis has already been identified
> as a possible threat to Earth in 2036.
>
> Chris McKay of the Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston told the
> website Space.com: "There's a lot of public resonance with the notion
> that Nasa ought to be doing something about killer asteroids ... to be
> able to send serious equipment to an asteroid.
>
> "The public wants us to have mastered the problem of dealing with
> asteroids. So being able to have astronauts go out there and sort of
> poke one with a stick would be scientifically valuable as well as
> demonstrate human capabilities."
>
> A 1bn tonne asteroid just 1km across striking the Earth at a 45 degree
> angle could generate the equivalent of a 50,000 megatonne thermonuclear
> explosion. Attempting to break it up with an atomic warhead might only
> generate thousands of smaller objects on a similar course, which could
> have time to reform. Scientists agree the best approach, given enough
> warning, would be to gently nudge the object into a safer orbit.
>
> "A human mission to a near Earth asteroid would be scientifically
> worthwhile," Dr McKay said. "There could be testing of various
> approaches. We don't know enough about asteroids right now to know the
> best strategy for mitigation."
>
> Matt Genge, a space researcher at Imperial College, London, has
> calculated that something with the mass, acceleration and thrust of a
> small car could push an asteroid weighing a billion tonnes out of the
> path of Earth in just 75 days.
>
> Gianmarco Radice, an asteroid expert at Glasgow University, said the
> best approach would be to land a device to dig into the object. "You
> could place something on the surface to eject material that would push
> the asteroid in the other direction."
>
> Mirrors, lights and even paint could change the way the object absorbed
> light and heat enough to shift its direction over 20 years or so. With
> less notice, mankind could be forced to take more drastic measures,
> such as setting off a massive explosion on or near the object to change
> its course. In 2005, Nasa's Deep Impact mission tested a different
> technique when it placed an object into the path of a comet.
>
> Dr Radice said robots could do the job just as well, doing away with
> the need for a risky and expensive manned mission. Last year Japan
> showed with its Hayabusa probe that a remote spacecraft can land on an
> asteroid.
>
> But with manned missions to the moon and possibly Mars on its to-do
> list again, Nasa is keen to extend the reach of its astronauts.
>
> Dan Durda, a senior research scientist in the Department of Space
> Studies at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado said
> an asteroid landing mission would be a good way test the new
> Constellation programme spacecraft, the Apollo-style planned
> replacements for the space shuttle with which Nasa hopes to return to
> the moon.
>
> He told Space.com: "A very natural, early extension of the exploration
> capabilities of this new vehicle's architecture would be a "quick-dash"
> near-Earth asteroid rendezvous mission."
>
> Tom Jones, a former shuttle astronaut, said: "After a lunar visit, we
> face a long interval in Earth-Moon space while we build up experience
> and technology for a Mars mission. An asteroid mission could take us
> immediately into deep space, sustaining programme momentum, adding
> public excitement and reducing the risk of a later Mars mission."
>
> Europe has its own efforts to tackle asteroids. Its planned Don Quijote
> mission will launch two robot spacecraft, one to tilt at a harmless
> passing space rock, and a second to film the collision and watch for
> any deviation in the asteroid's path.
>
> 'Not if, but when...' Hits and near misses
>
> At Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California, scientists monitor
> all "potentially hazardous asteroids" that might one day end up on a
> collision course with Earth. So far they number 831. The next close-ish
> shave - at a mere 17 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth -
> will be asteroid 2004QD14 on November 29.
>
> The Earth has a long history of asteroid strikes. Thirty five million
> years ago, a 5km-wide asteroid ploughed into what is now Chesapeake
> Bay, in the US, leaving an 80km crater. In 1908, an asteroid devastated
> swaths of Siberia when it exploded mid-air with the force of 1,000
> Hiroshimas. The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a huge
> asteroid striking Mexico 65m years ago is controversial since
> scientists uncovered rocks from the crater predating the extinction of
> the dinosaurs by 300,000 years.
>
> A near miss, when asteroid QW7 came within 4m km of Earth in September
> 2000, led Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik to declare: "It's not a case
> of if we will be hit, it is a question of when. Each of us is 750 times
> more likely to be killed by an asteroid than to win this weekend's
> lottery."
>
> In January 2002, the former science minister, David Sainsbury,
> announced the government's response to the threat from hurtling
> asteroids: a new information centre based in Leicester.
>
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1950258,00.html


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