Author Topic: Scientists: 'No Options' To Stop Massive Asteroids On Collision Course  (Read 2444 times)

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Offline Riney

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Scientists: 'No Options' To Stop Massive Asteroids On Collision Course
March 20th 2013
NPR.org
by ELISE HU

Without "a few years" warning, humans currently have no capacity to stop an asteroid on a collision course with the planet, scientists told a Senate panel Wednesday.

"Right now we have no options," said former astronaut Ed Lu. "If you dont know where they are, there's nothing you can do."

Scientists are calling for continued funding and support for NASA satellites and observation programs that look for "near Earth objects." The scenario from Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon is on the minds of lawmakers after two hulking rocks exploded in the air over Russia in February. More than 1,000 people were injured, bringing the risks of future incidents — and measures to prevent them — into clearer focus.

"I was disappointed that Bruce Willis was not available to be a fifth witness on the panel," joked Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the hearing.

While scientists put the odds of asteroids one kilometer in diameter or larger colliding with the earth as "once every few thousand year" event, they said cuts in space funding to monitor and detect space rocks could have devastating consequences.

"What [the film Armageddon] did was basically convince the American people that if anything bad happened, people would get in a shuttle and fix it," said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. "That is myth. That is not reality."

Scientists were simply sharing a grim reality NPR and others have written about in recent weeks — that the rules of physics mean there's almost no way to stop asteroids and debris from hurtling toward earth. It didn't stop the doomsday-scenario questioning from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida:

"What would an asteroid that is a kilometer in diameter, what would it do if it hit the earth?," Nelson asked.

"That is likely to end human civilization," said Lu, who is now CEO of the B612 Foundation, which aims to hunt devastating asteroids.

Decades of lead time is the only way to prevent that level of destruction, said scientists. With decades of advance notice, Lu said, American astronauts currently do have the capacity to destroy or make small changes to the trajectory of flying space objects to keep them from hitting earth. But detection requires investment, they said.

"It's important to know what we're up against, and this decade in particular is great for us to do the research necessary that will contribute to potential mitigation concepts," said James Green, NASA's planetary science director.

Lu estimates there's a 30 percent chance this century of relatively smaller asteroids hitting a "random location" on the earth to create a five megaton impact. Casualties would depend on the population of the area of impact.

If detected early enough, the cost of a mission to prevent a hit would cost at least a billion dollars, Lu said. "But ... you'd have to compare that against the losses of a massive, megaton impact."

the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/03/20/174851714/scientists-no-options-to-stop-massive-asteroids-on-collision-course?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

TrxiZ

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this would only work if all nations would work on this together like on the ISS (International Space Station) but it would cost a lot of money that maybe never would offer a chance to use a anti asteroid system, some some Im sure thinking thats money blown in the wind.

sad.

T

Offline Riney

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    I love watching science shows and asteroids hitting the earth is always a hot topic these days. I have heard different opinions about when and if large asteroids hitting the earth would be a problem. Out of all the things that might ever convince the world to pull together and get along, this subject is the only thing that would work according to most people.

    The latest one I heard was that we have a large one passing by the earth in 2029 and if we think ahead, we should do something to it while it passes that year. The reason is when it makes a second pass in 2036 it will come much closer to us, dangerously close. So for now we better get ourselves together before 2029.  :)
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear