Skip to comments.Action Plan For Killer Asteroids
Posted on 02/17/2007 8:31:38 AM PST by Loyalist
A draft UN treaty to determine what would have to be done if a giant asteroid was on a collision course with Earth is to be drawn up this year.
The document would set out global policies including who should be in charge of plans to deflect any object.
It is the brainchild of the Association of Space Explorers, a professional body for astronauts and cosmonauts.
At the moment, Nasa is monitoring 127 near-Earth objects (NEO) that have a possibility of hitting the Earth.
The association has asked a group of scientists, lawyers, diplomats and insurance experts to draw up the recommendations.
The group will have its first meeting in Strasbourg in May this year. It is hoped the final document will be presented to the UN in 2009.
"We believe there needs to be a decision process spelled out and adopted by the United Nations," said Dr Russell Schweickart, one of the Apollo 9 astronauts and founder of the Association of Space Explorers.
The threat of an asteroid hitting the Earth is being taken more and more seriously as more and more NEOs are found.
In the US, Congress has charged Nasa with the task of starting a more detailed search for life-threatening space rocks.
"Congress has said that Nasa's efforts to date are not sufficient to the threat," said the US space agency's Dr Steven Chesley.
"They have changed Nasa's targets so that the cataloguing and tracking of asteroids is part of its mandate."
Congress has asked the agency to mount a much more aggressive survey.
At the moment, Nasa tracks all objects greater than 700m (2,300ft) in diameter. The agency's new goal is to track all objects greater than 70m (230ft) in diameter.
To do this, the agency needs to use a new suite of telescopes.
Alternatives include building a new Nasa-owned system or investing in other proposed telescopes such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) or the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-Starrs).
Pan-Starrs is a wide-field telescope being developed at the University of Hawaii, whilst the LSST is a proposed ground-based instrument being developed by the not-for-profit LSST corporation based in the US.
Nasa estimates that there are about 20,000 potentially threatening asteroids yet to be discovered.
"Out of those thousands, there will be without question many that look like they might hit the Earth with a high enough probability that the public and everyone else will be concerned," said Dr Schweickart.
"This has gone from being an esoteric statistical argument to talking about real events," added Dr David Morrison, an astronomer at the Nasa's Ames Research Center.
The UN draft treaty would establish who should be in charge in the event of an asteroid heading towards Earth, who would pay for relief efforts and the policies that should be adopted.
In addition, it would set out possible plans to deflect the object.
Ideas could include hitting the asteroid with a spacecraft or rocket to deflect its orbit.
Other less destructive proposals include a "gravity tug" that would simply hover over the asteroid and use gravity as a "towline" to change its path.
But any decision to deflect an NEO could come with its own set of conundrums for the UN, as changing its path may simply alter its final target.
"It's important to understand when you start to deflect an asteroid that certain countries are going to have accept an increase in risk to their populations in order to take the risk to zero for everyone," said Dr Schweickart.
It is difficult decisions like this which can only be addressed by the UN, the Association of Space Explorers believes.
And it is under no illusion that the process can be sorted out quickly.
"You have to act when things look like they are going to happen - if you wait until you know for certain, it's too late," said Dr Schweickart.
Experts who will draw up the treaty include Lord Rees, the English Astronomer Royal and head of the Royal Society; the ex-director of science at the European Space Agency, Roger Bonnet; and former UK government advisor Sir Crispin Tickell.
The proposals were outlined at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in San Francisco, US.
Giant asteroid approaches Earth. UN blames US. UN blames Israel. UN blames global warming. UN forms commission to investigate possible responses. UN appoints Third World Marxist kleptocrats to commission. Experts suggest nuclear missiles to destroy or divert asteroid. NGOs complain of radiation poisoning and nuclear proliferation. Experts suggest diverting asteroid away from Northern Hemisphere to Brazilian rainforest. NGOs complain of racism and environmental disaster. Iran demands asteroid be diverted to Israel. UN takes Iran's suggestion under advisement. UN recommends unworkable technical compromise. UN asks US to pay for said compromise through commission members' relatives' Cayman Islands shell companies. US opposes plan, says it will go it alone to save Earth. France condemns US cowboy unilateralism, calls for nuanced multilateral response. Democrats pass resolution agreeing with France, refuse funding unless minority contractors favoured for project. China makes cryptic hints about unilateral response. Europe pretends not to notice. UN refers matter to General Assembly. General Assembly blames US, demands US divert asteroid to Washington and pay Third World for damage caused. Security Council passes General Assembly motion. US vetoes Security Council resolution. US scrambles to build rockets to destroy or divert asteroid. US fires rockets at asteroid. Asteroid diverted safely away from Earth. UN passes resolution condemning unilateral US action. Riots break out in Palestine.
Are they series? With the UN in charge of planetary defenses ... OMG, We're All Gonna Die! Oh, the huge manatee.
PS -- I wish my name was "Sir Crispin Tickell".
It seems that they (the UN) are trying to establish some sort of oversight for NASA.
The Mullahs should be put in charge. The Koran says that Muhammed split the Moon in two and then put it back together. They could do the same with an asteroid.
i was thinking the same thing...
Government exists to protect us from the Hobgoblins. Real or imagined. The real Hobgoblin of this planet is Al Qaeda and Islamic Fanaticism. The Republicans get this.
The Democrat liberals and progressives want to substitute that actuality with the alledged Hobgoblin of Global Warming (Think globally. Act locally. Get an Oscar).
Earth first, man... after you get their money...
One real reason not to fret too much about global warming is that some day an asteroid will plow into the Earth and make the global warming thing look like so much hubris. This future asteroid will poke such a huge hole in the global warming myth it will sink quicker than Ted Kennedy's car. Preemptively, the Leftists (in San Fransisco--surprise, surprise) are trying to cover that embarrassing loophole in the
Global Warming Climate Change Hobgoblin scenario. The innocent people of the world (potential victims) will not universally "buy into" the Climate Change thing unless the liberals can get the American taxpayer to fund this theoretical patch to cover this loophole in the global warming debate. This will help keep the Demo base stirred up for decades.
Earth first, man....we'll fix this planet, no matter the cost to others.
Climate Change...if the climate is changing, in what way is it changing? warming? cooling? is someone hedging their bets here?
Earth First?...Why not...we'll strip mine the other planets later...
Hopefully, in this version, Ben Affleck stays behind and dies.
Haaaar, haaaar, haaaar!!!
All of the Mullahs that I've seen look like they could use a good bath. Do they smell good???
"Out of those thousands, there will be without question many that look like they might hit the Earth with a high enough probability that the public and everyone else will be concerned," said Dr Schweickart."
That pretty much covers everybody.
Reminds of the line where Robin says, "Golly,gee, Batman, we could've been killed."
And Batman replies, "Yes, Robin, or worse."
Can you get fries with that?
....gives me warm feeling goose bumps to know that the U.N. is going to keep the world safe from an asteroid. Makes me confident that they can keep the world safe from an iran nuke....
A most fascinating new development!
First global warming, now killer asteroids... I haven't read the entire article, yet, but I fully expect a preliminary exploration of "asteroid credits", to compensate areas of the earth which have been identified as "asteroid magnets", and which also happen to disproportionally impact (pun intended0 the poorest of the poor of humanity.
Women and children expected to be hit the hardest...
A world-wide convention is planned to discuss the issue, in Rio de Janeiro, with a larger convention planned for Kyoto, Japan in 2008.
Details to follow.
Just NASA's budget.
The obvious solution to the problem is quarters.
Lots, and lots of quarters.
It is long past time to do something about it besides catalog the objects and dither about the best means of saving the world. Put some hardware into interplanetary space. And, repeal the Treaty.
Asteroid impacts may be unavoidable.
This passage in the book of Revelation (Ch. 8) sounds like asteroids to me:
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
If we have the technology and will to deflect an asteroid away, we can also deflect it in, to make a nice new crater like Barringer (on the small side) or Manson (on the large side). Or Chixsulub, if you're really angry.
Who gets this power?
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