Asteroid Impact Preparedness

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chubbs_wa

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Hi there!<br />I'm new here, but just finished an article on Space.com about being prepared for an asteroid impact if/when it ever happens on Earth.<br /><br />There are basically two solutions .. a plan for the cause .. and a plan for the effect. But why does the US want to spend all the money on researching how to "deflect" an impact .. over a plan to be prepared for one hitting the Earth instead?<br /><br />I can understand how much devastation an actual collision will deal to the Earth .. with it's impact, shockwaves, tsunamis, etc.. But a "planet killer" is only considered one because it will upheave a global dust storm that won't let the sunlight in. Why can't the US spend money and research on a solution to that problem instead? The US actually thinks it can spot an oncoming asteroid/comet and divert it's path? When it actually comes .. are we even going to be prepared for that?<br /><br />With a different plan ready to go (because it's about preparedness .. not utterly hypothetical about moving a space body) .. wouldn't it save plants, animals and humans from extinction? Maybe someone can think of some kind of Air Ionizers like the ones from "Sharper Image" .. but implemented on a global scale!<br /><br />I guess to me, in my opinion, I'd rather be prepared against a hurricane .. than putting all my eggs in one untested, hypothetical theory of moving a hurricane on a path around a city. And I'm not sure those US bureaucrats understand .. that there is ONLY one shot at it .. if it fails .. we all die.
 
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willpittenger

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It's actually rather simple. When the asteroid (or comet, which are even more deadly due to the higher velocity) hits the Earth, the dust and debris spread around the world in a hurry. Secondary impacters are hitting with seconds. Dust would travel from any major impact almost as fast due to shock waves.<br /><br />And don't bother attempting to destroy the asteroid or comet. All you would do is spread the debris out. Such attempts are strickly a last ditch effort. The "spreading out" part reduces the overall amount of impact, but makes impact more likely due to the shotgun effect -- it can't miss anymore. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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qso1

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Deflection is the best choice among all choices studied. I'm not sure those Sharper Image ionizers work that well and if we developed a network of ionizers based on that, or even something much better. We have no way to test it before the impact. It would also pose a problem if we detected the roid and didn't have enough time to deploy enough ionizers to handle the tremendous amount of dirt that would be thrown up in a collision.<br /><br />We can't even figure out how to deal with hurricanes. Remember cloud seeding?<br /><br />IMO, deflection mode offers the best solution, and one that can be developed with todays tech.<br /><br />BTW, just curious. How did you get a writing gig with SDC? And good luck with it. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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green_meklar

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>There are basically two solutions .. a plan for the cause .. and a plan for the effect. But why does the US want to spend all the money on researching how to "deflect" an impact .. over a plan to be prepared for one hitting the Earth instead?<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Mostly because if something actually hits the Earth, there's guaranteed to be some damage. Deflecting the asteroid first ensures no damage at all, except of course financially. And since we'll probably know about the asteroid's trajectory years before the impact, it won't take that much of a push to get it going somewhere else; the change in orbits will add up over time and make it miss the Earth by a good margin. Given our current charting of the Solar System, it is unlikely that we will be hit by an asteroid we don't know about well before the impact.<br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>We can't even figure out how to deal with hurricanes.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Actually, there's something called dyno-gel which they say <i>can</i> deal with hurricanes. It soaks up water very well, so it would get rid of lots of the clouds in hurricanes and disrupt the hot air they require to keep going. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>________________</p><p>Repent! Repent! The technological singularity is coming!</p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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I regret that the flaw is that we <i>cannot</i> count on detecting an incoming Asteroid years in advance. Unfortunately, they are largely "dark," e.g. do not radiate and have a very low albedo. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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green_meklar

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Well, I heard somewhere that, statistically, we probably already have more than half the large objects in the inner solar system charted by now. And of course, once we know where an object is and what direction and speed it's moving at, we can tell with reasonable accuracy where it will be for some time in the future. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>________________</p><p>Repent! Repent! The technological singularity is coming!</p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Unfortunately, that's not correct. In point of fact, detecting free-ranging asteroids is frequently a chance affair. Skilled amateurs as well as professionals scan the night sky's, and even so we still have chance encounters virtually unannounced.<br /><br />The odds of an extinction event mass asteroid impacting the Earth is 1:100,000,000. And it has already been 65,000,000 million years since the last one.<br /><br />I might add that the way statistics works, it could be another 35,000,000 years until it happens - or tomorrow. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>We can't even figure out how to deal with hurricanes.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote>Actually, there's something called dyno-gel which they say can deal with hurricanes. It soaks up water very well, so it would get rid of lots of the clouds in hurricanes and disrupt the hot air they require to keep going.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />That is a recipe for disaster. Nature abhors a vacuum. Cold is just that -- a vacuum of heat. The tropics have it and the Arctic doesn't. Hurricane are the most efficient method Nature has for moving heat from the Tropics to the Arctic.<br /><br />If you prevent hurricanes from forming, Nature will revert to the next most efficient method of moving heat. That would probably be harder. What you want to help Nature find a <b>more</b> efficient method of getting that heat to the Arctic. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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Try this: You're the new US President. NORAD just called. They just dected an impactor that is 1 hour from destroying Chicago. How do you apologize to the residents there that you failed to protect them? Then you have to apologize to their relatives afterwards. How badly do you want the job?<br /><br />Sure, you might be able to clean up what's left, but what about Chicago? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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witgenestone

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well. An extinction level event will probably be easier to forsee than a less substantial one? It can happen tomorrow but the probability of it happening the next hundred years is still extremely small. You got to believe the statistics (in nasa we trust)! Don't tell me that you wouldn't be suprised when you see a second sun descending from the sky. Folllowing your logic I would worry more about the GRB's. <br /><br />We havent got a long history in impact probability, but at least I think that some of the methods of predicting these events are really neat. <br /><br />I'm willing to bet a very large sum that we wont experience an extinction level event the next 50 years. Anyone up for it?
 
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yevaud

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Yes, but that's not how statistics works. It doesn't mean that the entire period of time has to go by before one event will occur. Only that during that time - at any point - that one event will occur. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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witgenestone

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It can happen. Now I'm really worried bout' them GRB's. <br /><br />By the way, how does the statistics work if an ELE BODY (a) hits a planet. Let's say that the probability for a new impact remains the same. Then the statistics say that a similar one will hit it in 100 million years. That one (b) hits 35 million years after the (a) impact. Will the statiscal chance for when the next ELE body (c) hits change?<br /><br /><br />
 
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yevaud

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You know, that's a very good question. On reflection, it would probably not change, as we're now talking about a new potential event. So despite that fact that object (b) has impacted early on in the "yoke" of 0 --> 100MY, everything is reset, so to speak. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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witgenestone

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But what does statistics tell then? Only that it must happen in a given space of time?
 
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yevaud

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Yes. Since the impact has occurred, the conditions for the original equation have been met. One impact <i>somewhere (when, actually)</i> during the 100MY. Now that it has occurred, a new equation supplants the original. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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kyle_baron

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The latest issue of Sky & Telescope (November) might be of interest to you. The asteroid's name is Apophis. In 2029 it will come close to earth (37,800 kilometers). How the earth's gravity affects it's orbit will determine whether it hits earth 7yrs later in 2036. Nasa wants to put a spacecraft near (along the side) of the asteroid, while continuously firing it's thrusters. This will tow the asteroid into a different orbit due to the spacecraft's and asteroid's gravitational attraction on each other. Gravity is used as the towline. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="4"><strong></strong></font></p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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A rather good article, BTW <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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witgenestone

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Throw a 300 dice. See if you get #1. If the earth throws these dices all the time, maybe it is a very "lucky" fellow.
 
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oscar1

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I think that since we realise that an asteroid could hit us and possibly destroy society as we know it, we should be, and are in a way, continously on the lookout for such a projectile. However, we do not know if we can successfully deter the thing, or even see it coming in time to be able to at least try and do something. I believe therefore that we should build and entertain a colony on Mars as soon as we can. That wouldn't help you or me when disaster strikes, but it would give humanity a small chance to survive at least. On the other hand, if we realise that while most generations before us worried as much, if not more, about all sorts of calamities they could be confronted with (looting soldiers, the plague, just to name a few), they were virtually totally ignorant of the danger an oversized meteor posed.
 
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search

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"In the past 600 million years there have been five major mass extinctions that on average extinguished half of all species. The largest mass extinction to have affected life on Earth was in the Permian-Triassic, which ended the Permian period 250 million years ago and killed off 90% of all species. The last such mass extinction led to the demise of the dinosaurs and has been found to have coincided with a large asteroid impact; this is the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event. There is no solid evidence of impacts leading to the four other major mass extinctions, though a recent report from Ohio State scientists stated that they have located a 483-km diameter impact crater beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet which may date back about 250 million years, based on gravity measurements, which might associate it with the Permian-Triassic extinction event."<br /><br />Should we worry? NO.<br /><br />NO because something that "will" happen "sometime" in the future<br />should not be keep us sleepless.<br /> <br />Should we do something about it? YES.<br /><br />YES because something that "will" happen "sometime" in the future should make us prepare.<br /><br />What should be the degree of preparedness? Theoretically Flexible, Thecnologically Ready and Always Vigilant.<br /><br />Theoretically Flexible meaning having a plan while searching for better solutions.<br /><br />Thecnologically Ready meaning that once you have one good theoretical plan you are thecnologically able to execute it.<br /><br />Always Vigilant meaning that we shoudl keep our eyes is the sky.
 
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oscar1

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Can't do that very often in my part of the world; too many trees around here (there are also lamp posts)!
 
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search

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At least you can hide behind the trees (or lamp posts) when it comes...
 
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yevaud

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Why do I get this image of the Coyote hiding under a dinky little umbrella, just before the 50-ton boulder lands on him? <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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