Protecting Earth from asteroids

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MeteorWayne

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Well, let's have some other nations pony up some money, rather than leaving it solely on the pockets of the American taxpayers...after all, it is a global issue.
 
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a_lost_packet_

Guest
MeteorWayne":kcb9vqd9 said:
Well, let's have some other nations pony up some money, rather than leaving it solely on the pockets of the American taxpayers...after all, it is a global issue.
I'd agree. But, it's likely that the United States is the only Nation with the capability to actually detect and do something about such a threat. At least, we would be the most likely candidate if such a situation existed. So, it's generally regarded as "Since we can do something about it, we should."

But, I'm with you on the cost. How about this?

Contract

For services provided by the United States for its customer, The World:

The United States agrees to construct and maintain a set of systems designed to detect and provide intervention in the case of a threat to Earth from a potential impactor from outer space.

The World agrees to pay a sum, to be specified, to cover the cost and implementation of such a system within a reasonable time frame and within specifications deemed suitable by a mutually agreed upon third party panel of experts. Once installed, the World agrees to pay reasonable upkeep and maintenance costs, including the incidental costs of upgrades and replacements, for the life of the contract.

The United States agrees to engage in due diligence to perform to the utmost of its abilities in successfully carrying out its responsibilities set forth in this agreement. However, because of the unpredictable nature and influence of possibly "unknown" phenomena, the United States is not to be held under a guarantee of successful performance beyond its due diligence responsibility.

This contract can be revoked only after initial costs of the completed systems has been met, or a penalty suitable to cover initial costs already incurred by the United States has been paid by the World. This contract will undergo performance review every ten years and may be modified at that time by mutual consent of both parties. Should resources be expended in the mitigation of a threat of a potential impactor by the United States, cost to replace necessary components of the defense system will be paid by the World in a timely manner.

The United States, also being a member of the purchasing party, The World, agrees to partially fund the program commensurate with equitable funding being paid by other members of The World.

Increased costs for administration due to no fault by The United States and upgrades or new methodologies in intervention relying on new discoveries and techniques will, in all cases, be born by the The World and paid for in a timely fashion agreed upon by both parties.

This contract is voided if, through no fault of any party, an impactor successfully extinguishes all life on planet Earth.


I think that about covers it. I'm really excited to begin work on this new contract. I think we'll really be able to establish a great business. Unfortunately, it appears we only have one customer available... and they're not really keen on paying for anything...
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Just a reminder :

http://www.esa.int : Call for media: reacting to threat of asteroid impacts
20 October 2010

ESA PR 24-2010 How would the world react to the threat of an asteroid impact? The media are invited to meet top-level experts at ESA's space operations centre in Germany on 29 October to find out more.

Journalists are invited to Darmstadt, Germany for a briefing at the end of a workshop on Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the dangers they present.
...



http://www.psi.edu : Ocean Asteroid Impact Could Deplete Earth’s Protective Ozone Layer for Years
Oct. 24, 2010

--An asteroid crashing into the deep ocean could have dramatic worldwide environmental effects including depleting the Earth’s protective ozone layer for several years, a Planetary Science Institute researcher has found.

This could result in a huge spike in ultraviolet radiation levels and hamper efforts to grow crops, as well as affect other life forms on Earth.

A medium-sized asteroid – between 500 meters and one km in diameter – smashing into Earth’s deep oceans would send vast amounts of seawater into the air, said Elisabetta Pierazzo, PSI senior scientist.
...
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
www.esa.int : Webcast: press conference live from
ESA Darmstadt, 29 October 13:00-14:30 CEST

Reacting to the threat of asteroid impacts: Watch live coverage of the press conference following the two-day Mission Planning & Operations Group (MPOG) Workshop. Astronauts, space scientists and international experts are meeting to consider options for a global response should an Earth-impacting asteroid threat be discovered.

Now replaying: Past reports on ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, which conducted asteroid fly-bys in 2008 and 2010, plus a profile of the Don Quijote asteroid-intercept concept mission.
 
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a_lost_packet_

Guest
EarthlingX":2cqm4rlm said:
http://www.esa.int : Webcast: press conference live from
ESA Darmstadt, 29 October 13:00-14:30 CEST...
Watching the conference now.

One thing that has come up is particularly cogent - We've had the international community come forward with informing "the people" of known dangers. Climate change and biodiversity have both been issues that are realized right now, yet little to no action has been successful.

The counter to that is, basically, while people may not understand Climate Change and biodiversity issues and while some of the science could be fuzzy, there isn't anything questionable about what happens when a large enough rock crashes into the Earth.

But, my problem there is that international efforts don't seem to bear the intended fruit. There are some notable exceptions, but IMO some of the very important ones just don't seem to matter. One reason is that there is no immediate penalty for not pursuing international efforts. Another is that few nations have the means to lead international efforts in any capacity.

The speaker that prompted the discussion had an important question - In light of all this, why doesn't the US just go ahead and do something?

Well, here's my question - Let's just say that it lands in our laps. What, exactly, can we do that doesn't require an international effort? Or, more to the point, because we're one of only three to five Nations truly capable of launching sizable spacecraft, is an international effort truly necessary? Would waiting on some unified, international approach truly be warranted? I don't think so.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
www.universetoday.com : Mitigating Asteroid Threats Will Take Global Action
Oct 29th, 2010

by Nancy Atkinson

During the past 24 hours, the Earth has been hit by about a million small meteoroids – most of which burned up in the atmosphere as shooting stars. This happens every day. And occasionally – once every 10,000 years or so — a really big asteroid (500 meters in diameter or larger) comes along and smacks Earth with an extinction-level impact. That idea might cause some of us to lose some sleep. But in between are other asteroid hits that occur every 200-300 years where a medium-sized chunk of space rock intersects with Earth’s orbit, producing a Tunguska-like event, or worse.

“Those are the objects we are concerned with,” said former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, speaking at a 3-day workshop in Darmstadt, Germany which focused on plans and recommendations for global coordination and response to an asteroid threat. “We need we need to take action now to bring the world together and recognize this as a global threat so that we can make a cooperative international decision to act to extend the survival of life on Earth.”
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The Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) workshop included astronauts and space scientists and was the latest in a series of workshop designed to offer suggestions to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Included were representatives from NASA, ESA, the Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers. They are working on defining future planning tasks and studies for the Group that will later be merged with findings of other experts to create a final report to the UN committee. This report will recommend how to react to an impact threat.

But there are issues such as, how changing an asteroid’s orbit could make it miss one area on Earth and instead hit another area.

“The issue of NEOs is an issue that the United nations has been considering for 10 years or so,” said Sergio Camacho, representing the UN Committee. “The reason it has to go through the UN is that when we make a decision, whatever action is taken might affect others and put them at risk where they are not at risk at the beginning. That can’t be a unilateral decision, and we need to pool the resources of space agencies in order to address the problem. It will be within the framework of the UN that we will be able to master this cooperation.”

Schweickart and the Association of Space Explorers, have been working on this issue for over 9 years and are just now beginning to see a little headway in the bureaucratic process. Everyone at the workshop agreed that political decisions and political awareness is something that has to be taken seriously.
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a_lost_packet_

Guest
EarthlingX":q2nlnced said:
http://www.universetoday.com : Mitigating Asteroid Threats Will Take Global Action ....“The issue of NEOs is an issue that the United nations has been considering for 10 years or so,” said Sergio Camacho, representing the UN Committee. “The reason it has to go through the UN is that when we make a decision, whatever action is taken might affect others and put them at risk where they are not at risk at the beginning. That can’t be a unilateral decision, and we need to pool the resources of space agencies in order to address the problem. It will be within the framework of the UN that we will be able to master this cooperation.”

Schweickart and the Association of Space Explorers, have been working on this issue for over 9 years and are just now beginning to see a little headway in the bureaucratic process. Everyone at the workshop agreed that political decisions and political awareness is something that has to be taken seriously.
See, that's the problem.

They've been "considering" this issue for 10 years. It will be another 10 years before they agree on "a preliminary plan to create an investigative body to consider a possible set of proposals that will begin to address the need for saving the Earth from certain destruction." That's the U.N.

Sure, I think everyone should be involved and we all have a stake in this. But, this might not be something we can comfortably hand the UN and expect to see results any time soon. What would have happened if we handed off construction of the ISS to the UN? We wouldn't have a space-station, that's what. We'd have an Exploratory Group that had meetings in which various proposals are discussed, but never unilaterally agreed to.

Unless there is a very clear and palpable threat, the UN isn't going to move quickly on anything. Unfortunately, when an asteroid or comet becomes a very clear and palpable threat, that may be too late.

I agree that new telescopes coming on line and more capability for detection will raise the awareness level of this issue, as was stated at the conference. But, I also agree with the sentiments of one of the attendees - Those who are able should just go ahead and start doing something about this now. If the UN wants to get on board, fine, they can help arrange for support for infrastructure, detection, communication, etc.. But, is putting a program like this in the hands of the UN really the smart thing to do?
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
http://www.bbc.co.uk : Asteroids: When the time comes to duck
Jonathan Amos | 23:09 UK time, Friday, 29 October 2010

Somewhere out in space there’s a big rock that has our address on it.
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No-one can say today when these might happen; we haven’t yet identified an asteroid of sufficient size and on a path that gives us immediate cause for concern.
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We know of some Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) today that are several km wide but fortunately none of them comes close enough to make us sweat.

The important thing is we keep looking. The US space agency’s NEO programme has been running since the late 1990s.
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So the inevitable question arises, what do we do if we find that huge rock with our address on it?

The powers that be are on the case. A lot of this work goes under the aegis of the United Nations, and in this context a body called the NEO Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) has been meeting in Germany this week.

This panel of experts – these are astronauts, various space scientists and engineers - is urging the world’s space agencies to improve their search and tracking capabilities, and to start developing concepts to deflect asteroids.
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Consider the 300m-wide asteroid Apophis. For a while, before the calculations were detailed enough, there was some concern this object might hit Earth in 2036. The odds now are thought to be pretty slim.

But just imagine for a moment that it was headed right for us and we needed to do something about it.

Take a look at the map below. We know enough about the plane of Apophis’s orbit to understand where this rock would intersect the Earth, and it would be somewhere along the red line.

Now imagine the UN meeting convened to discuss whether the mission sent up to deflect the asteroid should try to slow or accelerate the rock. The choice is important because it would determine where on the line the rock would hit if the mission is not entirely successful in getting the asteroid to pass by the Earth.

In other words, one strategy chosen over the other would lessen the risks for some while increasing them for others.

So, you can bet Russia, Venezuela and Senegal would have very different views on which mission profile should be chosen.

That’s why Schweickart believes the geopolitical obstacles need to be tackled now and the mechanisms put in place to deal with thorny issues like the one I’ve just described:

“If we can get past that bureaucratic challenge, we can in fact prevent [large] asteroid impacts from hitting again in our future. This is an amazing and rather audacious statement to make, but if we really do our job right, we should never be hit again by an asteroid that can do serious damage to life on Earth.”
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Yes, UN is a bit slow animal, so it is better to start discussions even before there is anything concrete to discuss. This way at least that part of talking before doing is done. If they will come up with a way to be able to reach any decisions in a case of a real threat, so much better.

At the end, it will all come down to capabilities and time-frame, and of course, more talking, because this is how you get money to act in such financially big endeavours for common good.

It is healthy to be reminded from time to time that we live in the same boat (or planet) too.

I can see any national plans that would include deep space capabilities only beneficial, and would expect them to be used in some hypothetical action, after more talking, of course.

If such action would be initiated by UN, it would also very likely include contribution from other countries, not only from those which already have space capabilities.
 
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a_lost_packet_

Guest
EarthlingX":1im3060n said:
Yes, UN is a bit slow animal, so it is better to start discussions even before there is anything concrete to discuss. ...If such action would be initiated by UN, it would also very likely include contribution from other countries, not only from those which already have space capabilities.
I agree with what you have said. But, I don't see the necessity to wait for the UN to catch up to the problem. We have an I.S.S. floating up there because Nations got together and decided to build it, lead by the USA. That is a pretty international effort. The ESA has hosted international efforts as well. The UN hasn't been a necessary component in either case, as far as I know, with the exception of being the governing/advisory/intermediary body for certain regulatory necessities.

I think we can start and let the UN catch up. We're going to need a lot of monitoring points, communications facilities and coordination efforts as well as participation from major technology producers and space-faring nations. I don't see why we can't simply start working seriously on it now, rather than placing the major responsibility on the U.N.

I'm all for involving the entire World in man's exploration and achievements in space. We all have a right to be proud and to share in those accomplishments, however we can. But, I'm not in favor of doing that and placing the safety of our species in the balance. Yes, that's somewhat reactionary and a bit too controversial for some to take seriously. To that, I would counter that I am not one to rely on chance when it comes down to anyone's safety, including that of those who might want us to delay.

We've been rolling the dice for quite awhile now. Eventually it's going to come up craps. I want a loaded pair of dice as soon as we can get them. :)
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
SDC : World Action Plan Emerging to Combat Asteroid Threat
By Leonard David
SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
posted: 09 November 2010
07:38 am ET



DARMSTADT, Germany – Space agencies around the world are working to be ready to coordinate their response to any potentially harmful asteroid headed for Earth.
To help focus a world-class planetary defense against threatening near-Earth objects, the space experts are seeking to establish a high-level Mission Planning and Operations Group, or MPOG for short.

Veteran astronauts and space planners gathered here at the European Space Agency's European Space Operations Center Oct. 27-29 to shape the asteroid threat response plan and establish an Information Analysis and Warning Network.

The MPOG workshop was organized by the European Space Agency, the Association of Space Explorers and Secure World Foundation (for whom this columnist is a research associate).

"It was the first face-to-face meeting of representatives from space agencies wrestling with the tough geopolitical and technical issues which they will face when we're confronted with an actual impact threat," said former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, a workshop leader and longtime activist on ways to protect the Earth from future asteroid impacts
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In a post-workshop handout, the attendees concluded that:
  • A Mission Planning and Operations Group should be established.
  • The MPOG should identify to space agencies the technical issues involved in planetary defense, to take advantage of synergies between human exploration, science, and study of the NEO hazard.
  • The MPOG should propose research themes in NEO deflection for use by space agencies, addressing those areas most critical for effective deflection strategies.
  • There is great value in finding hazardous NEOs early, to reduce the costs of deflection missions. Early detection would require upgraded NEO search and tracking capabilities.
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