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NASA Can't Pay for Killer Asteroid Hunt 398

Posted by Hemos
from the anyone-raid-the-coffee-fund-money dept. writes "NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn't enough money to pay for the task so it won't get done. 'We know what to do, we just don't have the money,' said Simon 'Pete' Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center." But hey, it's just the potential end of the world, so nothing much to worry about there.
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NASA Can't Pay for Killer Asteroid Hunt

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  • $1 (Score:4, Informative)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @12:23PM (#18250614) Homepage
    A cheaper option would be to simply piggyback on other agencies' telescopes, a cost of about $300 million, also rejected

    Thats $1 per American. There shouldnt even be a debate.
  • What a shame! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @12:27PM (#18250652) Homepage
    It was just a few years ago that a fairly sizable asteroid passed between the Earth and the Moon and we didn't even notice it until it passed by because it came from the direction of the sun. We need at least several years notice on these things if we want to avoid a direct hit at some point. There's no argument to be made against paying for the survey. We know big rocks hit the Earth. It's happened plenty of times in the past. It will eventually happen again. And it's one of those things that doesn't really cost that much compared to the GDP.

    That said, it's to the benefit of the entire planet and the entire planet should pitch in to help pay for it. Someone said, "So what? There's nothing we can do about it." Actually, given a few years notice, there's a lot we can do about it. An asteroid 5-10 years from hitting doesn't need much of a push to get it completely out of our way. It's when it's only a few months away that we're just completely screwed. But if there were an imminent threat of collision a few years out, I guarantee you, we'd figure out a way to move it. The world would definitely come up with the resources to figure out a solution.
  • Re:*Scratches head* (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @12:29PM (#18250678)
    Nasa does keep a thorough survey of NEOs []

    They (try to) keep track of any asteroids 100m in diameter or greater that can come within 0.05 AU of earth.
  • by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @01:00PM (#18251130)
    Such a system exists. It works on the simple principle that asteroids move while stars do not. I believe they use wide field of view lenses. I know they cost much more than $200.

    Existing systems include (Wikipedia)
            * The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) team
            * The Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) team
            * Spacewatch
            * The Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search (LONEOS) team
            * The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS)
            * The Campo Imperatore Near-Earth Objects Survey (CINEOS) team
            * The Japanese Spaceguard Association
            * The Asiago-DLR Asteroid Survey (ADAS)

    Such a registry exists []

    Naming rights belong to the discovering team, which is actually a bit of a sore point since these systems are SOO much more efficient at finding comets than amateur astronomers. So it's almost impossible to find and name something after yourself. It is simply given a number designation followed by the acronym of the team which found it.

    Mining rights? Err... Yeah... Right.
  • by GreggBz (777373) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @01:05PM (#18251210) Homepage

    you're such a piece of shit bureaucracy

    Are you sure your not talking about our lawyer politicians? []

    Right, NASA is easy to insult. But they pretty much try to do what they are told [] with they budget they are allowed to have.

    Vote a scientist [] into congress already.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @01:21PM (#18251482) Journal
    I believe you refer to Apophis, the asteroid that will pass within about 35,000km of Earth in 2029. It will make another pass by the Earth in 2036, and has a 1:50,000 chance of striking somewhere between the Kamchatka Peninsula and Venzuela. Apophis was named after the Greek spelling of the Egyptian god Apep the Destroyer.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @01:21PM (#18251492) Journal
    The point isn't to blow it up.

    The point is to knock it off course. A small change in velocity early in it's travels can lead to a larger one in position over time, especially lacking friction.

If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work it's physics.