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Space

Russia Plans To Divert Asteroid 305

Posted by samzenpus
from the Bruce-Willis-approved dept.
CyberDong writes "Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis, which may happen in 2036. NASA specialists believe that the collision is extremely unlikely. Russian specialists will choose the strategy and then invite the world's leading space agencies to join the project."
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Russia Plans To Divert Asteroid

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:46PM (#30602274)

    When they take an asteroid that's not likely to hit Earth, and accidentally divert it onto a path directly at Earth, I'm going to do an epic facepalm.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.

      Yet, people win the damn lottery every day.

      USA: no need to bother, it likely won't happen.
      Russia: better not take any chance.

      I'll go with Russia's solution, thank you very much.
      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:59PM (#30602360) Homepage Journal

        NO, there is a bigger chance to be hit by an asteroid than to win a lottery. Because Apophis is under observation we know exactly what the risk is. The real risks come from objects we are not currently observing.

        • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:23PM (#30602522) Homepage Journal

          Indeed. There's a lot of exciting lotteries out there and we've got tickets in all of them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            I want to point out that the odds of winning a state lottery jackpot, let alone a MegaMillions jackpot, are so small that your odds of buying a winning ticket are effectively no better than the odds of finding a winning ticket on the ground.

            With my luck, if I ever win the lottery we're sure to be hit by an asteroid the next day. So you guys better be glad I don't play the lotterty, and pray I never find a ticket on the ground.!

            • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:26AM (#30604916)

              I want to point out that the odds of winning a state lottery jackpot, let alone a MegaMillions jackpot, are so small that your odds of buying a winning ticket are effectively no better than the odds of finding a winning ticket on the ground.

              For that to be true then amongst past winners there'd have to be an even distribution of people who bought their ticket versus people who randomly picked up their ticket off the ground. Somehow I doubt that's the case ;).

        • by PPH (736903) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:26AM (#30602834)

          The real risks come from objects we are not currently observing.

          Russian scientists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jamesh (87723)

          Because Apophis is under observation we know exactly what the risk is.

          Aren't some of them a bit unpredictable due to the ejection of matter (eg steam) as they get closer to the sun? Or maybe i've been reading too much SciFi.

          The real risks come from objects we are not currently observing.

          That's certainly true. Wasn't there one that came pretty close recently that we only noticed as it was leaving?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Actually, the risk of Apophis hitting the planet being 1 in 250,000 or so ( http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/a99942.html ) then the risk of getting hit (well, killed) by Apophis as an individual is probably somewhere along the lines of 1 in, oohhh, say ten million.

          Odds of winning powerball jackpot: 1:195,249,054. So, order of magnitude estimate, you are somewhere around 20 times as likely to die because of Apophis as you are to win Powerball. And it is 800 times more likely that Apophis will hit the Earth than
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Talderas (1212466)

            "Sir, the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are two to one!"

            "Never tell me the o-oh... well that's not bad. Never mind, let's keep going."

        • by js_sebastian (946118) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @07:32AM (#30604158)

          NO, there is a bigger chance to be hit by an asteroid than to win a lottery.

          Is there really? Estimates of this based on historical data would have us hit by an asteroid big enough to make dinosaurs go extinct once every... 70 million years (or so, look it up if you want correct numbers). So it is perhaps about as likely to be hit by one in a given year as a given ticket winning the lottery (depending on how big a lottery). However, if we assume that such an asteroid would kill 7 billion people if it did hit, we can also say that catastrophic asteroid impact kills on average 100 people a year... not a highly impressive number, probably less people than are killed by flying debris http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0EY86At7qs [youtube.com] each year, but still pretty high considering that there is hardly any historical record of a man being killed by an asteroid impact.

      • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:13PM (#30602458)

        There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.

        Doesn't seem likely to me. If an asteroid hits the planet, there might not be any more lotteries run after that. And the likelihood of the asteroid hitting, and me winning the lottery shortly afterward is vanishingly small, especially as I don't enter lotteries.

      • http://www.hulu.com/watch/80885/stargate-sg-1-fail-safe#x-0,vepisode,1,0 [hulu.com]

        although apophis was the name of the one that sent the asteroid not the asteroid

      • "There's a bigger chance to get hit by Apophis then to win the lottery.
        Yet, people win the damn lottery every day."

        People do not win the lottery every day. It goes for months on end with no winners.
    • by Trackster (761525) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:55PM (#30602330) Journal
      When they invite NASA and ESA to join in, I'm confident that cooler heads will prevail. I can easily trust a decision that results from these 3 putting their heads together.
      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:28PM (#30602560)
        Yeah, not going to happen. The problem is, who is going to fund all of it? Russia's space agency is operating at a shoestring budget, NASA since the cold war ended isn't getting tons of money, and I'm not sure about the ESA but it seems kinda tiny when compared to NASA and the Russian space agencies. The problem with global cooperation is that if Russia has the best idea according to say, the ESA, but NASA has more money but has an idea no one likes, they might end up having to do it because they aren't going to finance the ESA/Russia's idea.
        • I suspect the mechanics and eventual funding are not the issue. The issue is "(Russia) then invites the world's leading space agencies to join the project.".

          What I find interesting about this is there is some value in being seen as the visible innovator. Look at the kudos China got from the story a few days ago about their fast train(made actually by the Germans etc). Who has the fastest train? The Chinese. Who will save the earth from doom? The Russians.
          • by quax (19371)

            If that'll actually result in "saving earth from doom" based on the Russians getting this underway I am all for giving them credit. When compared to military expenditure essentially nothing is spend on preventing these kind of disasters although we know that major impact events threw evolution a loop many times throughout earth's history. Any initiative that'll change that balance a bit for the better is welcome to me.

    • by Looce (1062620) *

      Bullshit. You won't have the face and palm to do that... anymore.

    • based on their experience with avoiding snow - I consider this to be a highly likely outcome.

    • by Tynin (634655) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:04PM (#30602390)

      When they take an asteroid that's not likely to hit Earth, and accidentally divert it onto a path directly at Earth, I'm going to do an epic facepalm.

      Orbital mechanics have a funny way of making an object return to its point of egress. Given how close it is, it is a bit concerning they want to adjust its orbit.

      That said, I feel this is something we need more experience in anyhow. Their is already an asteroid out there right now with our name on it, it is just a matter of time before it shows up. We will lose out if we don't take this opportunity to field test our idea's as we have the tech to do so now. As an economical side point, one day I'm sure we'd like to know how to slowly adjust their paths to bring them into an more contained/slower orbit around/near Earth so we can begin mining them for untold trillions of $ worth of materials they contain.

      • by geckipede (1261408) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:38PM (#30602624)
        Exactly so. It doesn't matter if Apophis is going to hit us or not, the point is that this is a perfect opportunity to practise deflection strategies in advance of the real life-or-death event. There are going to be flaws in our thinking, every single asteroid shunting plan we have is untested and will be less than perfect when put into practise. We absolutely need to know whether there are critical mission failure flaws in these plans, or just minor irritations that won't ruin things.

        When it finally comes to the point when an asteroid is on a direct collision course, we might not be lucky, we might not have seen it decades in advance, and so a test run and lots of arguing about methods might not be an option.
        • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

          I definitely agree, Apophis provides a great rehearsal run. But I would point out that any deflection strategy that makes sense with Apophis would necessarily require years of advance warning. I've never seen a feasible concept that could deflect a short-notice, 'Armageddon' type asteroid -- it really would rely on a Bruce Willis-led nuclear Hail Mary.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by goodmanj (234846)

          You can just as easily practice asteroid deflection strategies on an asteroid that has no chance of hitting Earth either before or after. That way the odds of catastrophic fail are zero.

          A similar article in the New York Times [nytimes.com] makes this point, and ends up with the quote, “There are a million asteroids out there. Find another one.”

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      Well if you believe they can calculate the odds of it hitting earth based on its current estimated path, then surely they can calculate how to modify the trajectory so as to reduce the odds.

      On the other hand, I agree that since it already sounds incredibly unlikely that it will hit us, screwing with it sounds like a silly idea.

      On the other, other hand I would rather have someone out there treating the problem of meteor impact like it is real and developing a plan to address it. For a plan to have a high ch

      • Well if you believe they can calculate the odds of it hitting earth based on its current estimated path, then surely they can calculate how to modify the trajectory so as to reduce the odds.

        Well, the problem is the estimation of the odds of it hitting Earth come with some pretty large error bars. Small enough to be reasonably certain that it won't hit the Earth, but large enough that I find it unlikely that any sort of precise calculation can be made of the amount of trajectory modification required.

    • I don’t. I will just stand is the direction of the oncoming asteroid and let it give me the epic facepalm.

      At least that way I’m 100% sure I won’t die slowly and cruely in the nuclear winter.

      If I can, I will also do all the nasty illegal shit right before that. All drugs, crimes and sick shit ever invented. ^^

    • by NReitzel (77941)

      On the other hand, NASA is well known for being real good at deciding something isn't dangerous.

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Well, I would hope... sincerely hope... that they plan to track the asteroid and confirm its course before trying to do anything. Fortunately its not very expensive to do it the right way, assuming they go with a gravity tractor and not something ridiculous like a kinetic impactor.

      The equipment required to move it isn't very different from the equipment required to study it, so you can go out, track it (having a radio beacon can improve your estimates by 10-100x), and figure out where its going. If it is

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:49PM (#30602290)

    Is the ability to divert asteroids.

    Wonderful weapon, just massive blast damage and no residual radiation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:53PM (#30602310)

    NASA: Listen, there's no way that thing is going to hit us.
    Roscosmos: Naturally, since we're diverting it. Thank you for your vote of confidence, American pigs.

  • by mikey177 (1426171)
    my prediction we throw everything we have at it and only moves one inch. who is with me?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:54PM (#30602316)

    You hit Aster... wait.

    In Soviet Russia, Asteroid hits Y...

    I've been defeated.

  • by nycguy (892403) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:54PM (#30602318)

    "Everything will be done according to the laws of physics."

    That's what they all say...

    • "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

      • by jefu (53450)
        "If it goes in, it must come out." Teslacles deviant to Fudd's First Law
      • "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

        Is this the same Fudd who stuck his shotgun in a hole in the ground and shot himself in the ass?

  • Relax (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yurka (468420) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:54PM (#30602320) Homepage

    It's just another way of diverting the flow of government money into a few carefully chosen pockets. As is the nano-technology research program, and the snow-free winters mentioned earlier today. Think about it: an open-ended grant with no accountability for a quarter century - and likely ever? They'll get a couple government defaults and an odd coup in between, who's going to care about the small stuff.

  • Sounds Fishy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:56PM (#30602334) Homepage

    Actually, it sounds like Perminov has no idea what he's talking about to begin with, so it seems unlikely that this will go anywhere. Consider this quote, from the original AP article:

    Without mentioning NASA's conclusions, Perminov said that he heard from a scientist that Apophis is getting closer and may hit the planet. "I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032," Perminov said.

    Note that the NASA conclusion is that, no, there will be no strike in 2032 and unlikely in 2036. It sounds like he's a bureaucrat trying to make himself important by making up a job. That doesn't bode well for the projecting going anywhere.

    (Phil Plait [discovermagazine.com] has talked about this, too.)

    • Re:Sounds Fishy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:16PM (#30602480) Homepage Journal

      This is everything currently known about the orbit of 99942 Apophis.

      http://aeweb.tamu.edu/aero489/Apophis%20Mitigation%20Project/Predicting%20Earth%20Encounters.pdf [tamu.edu]

      We'll know more in 2012/2013 when radar returns can be collected. Anyone who says that there is "no chance", "nearly no chance" or anything other than "we don't have enough data yet" is just trying to stem public panic by treating you like a child. Read the scientific papers, make your own decision and for god sakes, don't criticize the people we may be calling on to save lives in the future.

      The fact is, asteroid detection systems (let alone mitigation systems) globally are woefully inadequate. We need at least a dozen radar telemetry satellites in solar orbit and improvements in the deep-space-network to handle that kind of data through-put. Total cost is likely in the tens of billions, and most of that will go on the telescopes, not the radar sats, and traditionally that's the most starved part of all national budgets diverted to space.

      • Re:Sounds Fishy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:23PM (#30602518)
        Well then we definitely don't have enough information to choose a method. If we don't know enough to estimate the likelihood of impact, then we don't know enough about the trajectory to even consider screwing with it. The Earth has been around for billions of years and in the last several hundred million years, it's been hit by how many bodies large enough to threaten all life?

        That's not to say that it couldn't happen, but it is an indication of what kind of stuff our orbit leads us through on a regular basis. And a reason to be concerned when anybody suggests that we monkey around with an asteroid, sure we might succeed in changing it's velocity, but we might very well cause it to hit us rather than narrowly avoiding us.
        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          Well then we definitely don't have enough information to choose a method.

          There's certainly capabilities that we should be thinking about acquiring. At this point in time the only demonstrated technology we have is flying a very low-mass probe to the asteroid and slamming into it. This will have little to no effect on the orbit of the asteroid - certainly not enough for mitigation. So if we want to have any hope of diverting an asteroid in the future we need to improve our capabilities now.

        • Re:Sounds Fishy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:25AM (#30602828)

          The Earth has been around for billions of years and in the last several hundred million years, it's been hit by how many bodies large enough to threaten all life?

          Please note that Apophis is nowhere near large enough to "threaten all life".

          Wreck a city? It can do that.

          Make a spectular boom? That too.

          But it's not a threat to "all life". Or even most life. Or even a little bit of life (unless it lands on the last four white rhinos in the wild).

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by QuantumG (50515) *

            Be careful what you say there... you might just debunk the nuclear boogie man. An Apophis sized impact is said to be equivalent to about 1000 H-bombs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CheshireCatCO (185193)

        Anyone who says that there is "no chance", "nearly no chance" or anything other than "we don't have enough data yet" is just trying to stem public panic by treating you like a child.

        The authors of the paper you link said pretty much exactly that in their abstract. Saying "we don't have enough data yet" is a cop-out; we know enough to make a pretty good prediction, which is all you can ever do.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          They most certainly did not say that. The abstract says that current estimates have MASSIVE error margins and that without more data we can't be sure of the current predictions.. I know its not exactly an easy read but it's right there on the page.

          • Re:Sounds Fishy (Score:4, Informative)

            by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:56PM (#30602690) Homepage

            Instead of being insulting, why not read it yourself?

            A small estimated Earth impact probability remained for 2036.

            and

            While the potential for impact in 2036 will likely be excluded in 2013 (if not 2011) using ground-based optical
            measurements,

            No, the odds of impact aren't zero. But they're not anywhere near high enough to be really freaked, either. You're more likely to die of swine flu in the US, after all. So no, we astrophysicists are not trying to treat you like a child, we're trying to explain to you what these odds mean.

            (Note that no one is saying that we shouldn't look at ways to protect ourselves from asteroids in general. But this particular politician's claims and sources seem questionable and I, for one, don't think he's going to lead us to any real improvements in our protection.)

            • by QuantumG (50515) *

              Sigh. The whole paper is about the errors in estimation and how inaccurate the parts you are selectively quoting are.

      • It would be great if we could land a transponder on 99942 Apophis on or after the next closest approach because our best option in the case of an impact will be to evacuate the landing site well in advance. To do that we need really accurate tracking data, hence the transponder.

        Its a good thing that much of the work done in the last 40 years or so on unmanned space flight has been in the design of transponders of one sort or another. Its just a shame we don't have a vehicle ready to go.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          Yes, agreed. It really wouldn't be that expensive of a mission, under $650M.. the best candidate at the moment is Osiris-Rex proposed for the Discovery program in 2004 and 2006. It was recently selected as a New Frontiers mission. The mission would include mapping the asteroid, identifying resources that could be used in human exploration, and studying the potential for asteroids to impact Earth. They haven't yet selected an asteroid..

          • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

            Actually, you could probably do it for closer to $300M. The rest of that website happens to contain a mission concept thats been pretty well vetted (working with NASA Ames and multiple iterations) that can go and study the asteroid, mitigate it if necessary, and practice mitigation if not. It focuses less on resources for exploitation and more on the basics of mitigation, tracking, surface studies and material properties. More focused but perfect for a mitigation focused mission. You could probably find

      • The fact is, asteroid detection systems (let alone mitigation systems) globally are woefully inadequate. We need at least a dozen radar telemetry satellites in solar orbit and improvements in the deep-space-network to handle that kind of data through-put.

        Why would we want to spend billions of dollars on building something roughly as useful for asteroid detection as a teddy bear?

        Total cost is likely in the tens of billions, and most of that will go on the telescopes, not the radar sats, and tradition

    • by RobVB (1566105)

      From NASA [nasa.gov]:

      "Apophis has been one of those celestial bodies that has captured the public's interest since it was discovered in 2004," said Chesley. "Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the probability of an Earth encounter on April 13, 2036, for Apophis has dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a million."

      1 in 250,000 is high enough to have some people study it some more.

      • Did you read the quote? The problem isn't whether asteroids are a threat, it's whether this bureaucrat knows the first thing about what he's talking about. You will note, for example, that 2036 (when Apophis has the highest chance of actually hitting Earth that we know of) is not "by 2032" as Perminov states. Also, "it seems to me there's a chance" and that he "heard from a scientist" are extremely dubious things to state. Either he has facts and figures (they exist) and could name his source, but he's

        • by RobVB (1566105)

          I read the quote, and looked up some info about the Apophis asteroid, but I did not RTFA. Perhaps if I had, I would have known what you were talking about and I could have come up with a reply that wasn't completely beside the point.

          But hey, this is Slashdot. You can't blame me for not reading the really relevant articles, right?

    • Making bold directive statements like this in press releases and then not following it up seems to be par for the course in Russian politics. Russians seem to respect boldness and the appearance of strength in leaders, he's probably either positioning for a upward move or validating his current job. In the unlikely event this does actually go somewhere, it will be interesting to see what they muster up. Part of me longs to see Tsar Bomba II and a new brief star in the sky, but realistically I expect a so

  • Who can we get to do the soundtrack?

  • Can we.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:04PM (#30602384)
    Can we send annoying actors on a mission to land on this asteroid, drill down into it, and make it blow up? Oh, and can we have one of those guys have to stay behind to detonate it? Better yet, make them all have to stay behind.
    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Hey this is a Russian mission...which means we have to have at least one Russian guy beating on everything with a wrench saying "Work you stupid thing!". It would only be right after all. Hey think we can get Yakov so we can kill the whole Soviet Russia meme dead while we are at it? It would be a win/win!
  • asteroid (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:05PM (#30602396) Journal

    Even if Apophis has no chance of hitting Earth, attempting to divert the asteroid farther from Earth may have value as a test of our ability to do so. I would however, prefer that they did such a test on an asteroid that is not due to pass so close to Earth any time soon.

    • Re:asteroid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:19PM (#30602496)

      If we want the power to divert asteroids we must prove we can do it in order to know we can do it.

      This is a bit like atmospheric testing, which decisively proved limited nuclear wars are quite practical and suggested that total nuclear war was an extreme last resort. Some things aren't practical to simulate.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      It has value because it shows that you can.

      Just like putting something in orbit shows the other guys you can spy on them and drop bombs on them without needing to fly a plane over them, this shows you can divert an smaller asteroid to hit them.

    • Even if Apophis has no chance of hitting Earth, attempting to divert the asteroid farther from Earth may have value as a test of our ability to do so. I would however, prefer that they did such a test on an asteroid that is not due to pass so close to Earth any time soon.

      How fast does this approaching Earth? Can we park it in geosync for an elevator? We should have the nanoropes by then.

  • Russian hot air (Score:4, Informative)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:07PM (#30602424)

    Having lived for most of my life in the "east" under Communism, I am sure that this announcement is hot air...along the lines of nationalistic-pride type of goals that both the U.S. and USSR used to pump out on a regular basis during the cold war. Russia can barely keep up with paying their military bills; their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat and space program is not doing well [bu.edu]; it's unthinkable that in this economic climate they will spend the kind of money required to accomplish this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tjhayes (517162)

      their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat

      If their nuclear subs were floating that would be a bad thing, subs are supposed to sink under the water :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        You'd think a commenter in the science section would understand something like buoyancy. But evidently not! Subs sink, durrrr...let's all go watch CNN now.
    • their nuclear subs are barely staying afloat

      Isn't that the whole point about subs?

      (sorry. I'll be here all night, etc).

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:08PM (#30602426) Homepage

    Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis

    This would be the same people who just tried to engineer a winter without snow in Russia, with mixed results [time.com].

    Now they're going to try diverting an asteroid.

    What could go wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      Heh. If it makes you feel any better, orbital dynamics are easier to figure out than the weather since they're pretty much non-chaotic. The error mostly comes from error in measurements of its position over time, so the longer we watch it the more accurate we get, until we get forecasts like a 1-in-300,000 chance of catastrophic meteor impact in 26 years. A bit better than weather prediction, eh? By the time any interceptor actually got close, we'd know the actual trajectory very well. If we were reall

    • Yeah, exactly the same guys... of all the 142 million... exactly the same...

      Just like you are exactly the same guy as Dick Cheney who is exactly the same guy as Jon Steward and.. apparently... Ronald McDonald.

      Wait, let me get my Lederhosen, Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and Volksmusik, so I can join it with my country.

      Riiiight... ;)

  • Ah, shades of Armageddon. That wonderful movie where they so realistically portray space missions so weight critical that they bring friggin miniguns along with them. What they really need is some space faring Sharks with Lasers on their heads. That should fix it!!!!!

  • CyberDong writes "Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, will start working on a project to save planet Earth from a possible collision with Asteroid Apophis

    ....

    I don't think the news is that another asteroid is coming to crush us - the problem is that vibrators have apparently obtained sentience!*

    * at least enough to post on slashdot.

  • They blast the fuck out of it, announce a successful diversion, have a big party, and go home. In 2036 the thing turns Moscow into a giant crater. Just cuz it rolls like dat.
  • Test drive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:42PM (#30602638)
    Even if this asteroid is not going to hit Earth, I think it's time to test drive some solutions to an inevitable problem with terrifying consequences.

    As a bonus, we might actually advance science and technology!
  • I recognize the irony in asking this question as I am an American; however, shouldn't there be a little more discussion from the rest of the planet when dealing with the potential of a huge asteroid destroying the planet if someone calculates a trajectory incorrectly?

  • Science fiction is sometimes written on the basis of "if this goes on" or "taken to the extreme". Guardian writes theirs by taking things like offhand comments made on a radio show about someone should do something like this because it'd be a good idea, and changed it to committing a country's space program to actually doing so.

    Guardian has published similar articles before and invariably doesn't even bother to cover its tracks. If plans were actually being made to carry out such a program, it is highly unl

  • and not need it, than to need one and have no plan. If all they're talking about is brainstorming, let them do it. It costs very little in the grand scheme of things to sit and consider your options.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:36AM (#30602870)

    How much you wanna bet this will involve Putin, a gun, and a film crew?

  • Chess (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:14AM (#30603026) Homepage Journal
    Once upon a time, Russia had the best Chess players of the world. Now will be have the Billiards ones.
  • Maybe we could pay for the mission with carbon credits?! Seriously, it's almost like the Russians, who are big-time global warming deniers, are throwing the whole global mission to save the earth at any cost canard right back at the west, except this time all the money from the global government arrangement goes to Russian space research.

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @05:21AM (#30603852)
    This asteroid may not pose a threat. But another one might sooner or later. So even if it does not make much sense in terms of actual threat now, I guess, it is a good opportunity to gather data on projects like this. Or to say in another way: Do you really want to wait till an asteroid is discovered, which will hit the earth for sure and then start thinking and developing?

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