Report: NASA can’t keep up with killer asteroids

Posted: August 13, 2009 in armageddon, Asteroids, comets, killer asteroids, NASA

I knew a guy who’d get asteroids so bad he could barely sit down.
In 2005, Congress gave NASA the job of spotting 90 percent of the asteroids and comets that might threaten life across the earth. These are, by definition, considered to be objects 1km or larger and NASA is getting close to fulfilling that responsibility. More recently, Congress also directed NASA to track any objects 140 meters or larger. However, the administration has not requested, nor has Congress provided the funds to fulfill this requirement. As such, NASA is not on track to satisfying that part of the requirement.
The AP article in the headline, derived from a report from the National Academy of Sciences, again brings to mind my first law of space operations: if it ain’t funded, it ain’t.
It next brings to mind another shortcoming in the congressional mandate itself: if you don’t know how many objects there are, with any confidence, how can you task NASA to find 90 percent of them? Wouldn’t the first job be to inventory these objects?
Ok, we’ll skip that. NASA estimates there are about 20,000 objects in our solar system big enough to have a major “impact” (so to speak) for life on earth. They know where about 6,000 of them are.
For some reason, the U.S. is the only country with an active government-sponsored effort regarding the threat. I’m sure all the rest of the world thinks this is vitally important work, although it is apparently not important enough for them to spend money on. This raises another question: are we right in trying to solve this conundrum, or are they right in letting us serve as bill-payers and try and solve it ourselves?
Besides praying, what would we do if a comet or asteroid were to threaten the earth? Probably wish we’d funded some “space weapons.”
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Comments
  1. 19 August 2009 A Nuclear Explosive doesn't have to be a weapon to fracture or deflect an asteroid. An EARTH SAFE nuclear explosive for defending Earth from asteroids. Current weapon-based designs for atomic explosives use chemical explosives to initiate and enclose the preliminary chain reaction. Instead of explosives, this design takes advantage of impact energy to generate high velocity gases to assemble the device. To complete the detonation sequence the assembled critical mass impacts the asteroid surface (>4000 meters per second, the speed of sound in uranium) to compress the critical mass into a super-critical mass. Circuitry detects the compression and emits neutrons into the super-critical mass to detonate the device. This design is not meant to enter the Earth's atmosphere as a reentry vehicle. The device is designed to go critical (but not super-critical) and partially melt down upon entering the Earth's atmosphere. The critical core will be severely damaged and incapable of going super-critical and generating either an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or a surface detonation. On entering the Earth's atmosphere it goes critical, turns to slag, and is incapable of any more damage than several bowling balls being de-orbited. Wanna play catch? High Earth orbit is the best place to put a system of missiles carrying atomic explosives for destroying or deflecting incoming Asteroids or Comets. A system in high Earth orbit can launch against an incoming comet or asteroid in less than 48 hours, faster depending on its orbital position. A response launched from Earth's surface is affected by weather and could take weeks or months. Very large asteroids or comets are usually detected at a great enough distance to give some amount of time for a response. Smaller rocks capable of destroying a city may only give a few days warning. Imagine trying to evacuate L. A. in 2 days, (or even 2 weeks).See http://www.atoe.com/qdevice.html for further details. Louis P. Quinn A.K.A. Darth LokiP.S. How does a civilian get to take courses at the NSSC and NSSI. The only certification I have now is for brain damage, (not a joke).

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