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Earth NASA Space Science

WISE Discovers 95 New Near-Earth Asteroids 112

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-sure-you-want-to-know? dept.
astroengine writes "NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has turned up 25,000 new asteroid discoveries, 95 of which are near-Earth objects (NEOs). This mission is as fascinating as it is frightening. Capable of spotting any cosmic object glowing in infrared wavelengths, WISE has become an expert asteroid hunter, seeing these interplanetary vagabonds, some of which get uncomfortably close to our planet."
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WISE Discovers 95 New Near-Earth Asteroids

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @10:35PM (#32940780)

    I'd rather know it's my last chance to see people than not get that chance.

    Also, first?

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @10:54PM (#32940828) Homepage
    The discovery of additional Near Earth Asteroids isn't scary at all. We knew these objects almost certainly had to be there. We didn't know where exactly they were. Now we can go and track their orbits and if anyone gets close to being a threat maybe have some small chance at dealing with it or preparing for the really bad results if we can't deal with it. This is a good thing. Not searching for these objects would just be like trying to deal with a big angry predator by sticking your head in the ground and hoping it goes away.
  • The next step (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Leo_07 (1711944) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:34PM (#32940952)
    I think the next question is to ask ourselves how we are going to deal with these near-Earth asteroids. We should be ready for a rare but possible asteroid crash so that we don't have a second oil-spill-like incident.
  • by arkane1234 (457605) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:43PM (#32940978) Journal

    Once we figure out a way to stop a massive hunk of matter hurdling through space, then we can get our robotic strip mining machines out to latch on and tear it apart.
    Probably in another year or two.

  • Re:The next step (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:46PM (#32940984) Homepage Journal

    For the vast majority of impacts it will be enough to evacuate the impact site. For this there are two basic problems:

    1. Exactly where and when will the impact occur? To answer this we need really accurate tracking. Transponders on the impactor would help a lot.
    2. How do we safely evacuate the target area? What do we do if the target is Calcutta? Move the population to Afghanistan? I bet that will go down well. This is a political problem which can only partly address right now. Improvements are needed.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:31AM (#32941118) Homepage Journal

    They'd tell you numbers which you wouldn't understand. Then the pundits would turn those numbers into something they can scare you with, probably overblowing the threat while they do so, and Concerned Citizens would go to their Congressmen demanding answers. NASA would provide those answers.. in a completely unintelligible way, and someone would interpret those answers as dismissing the threat. Then there'd be a big argument over whether it's a threat or isn't it. Eventually one of the egg heads with a wife will get a lecture about talking like a normal person once in a while and a press statement would be released saying exactly how likely and excessive the threat is (after it went through a few committees to ensure it was easy enough to understand, and defend). By this time the media will be completely bored with the story and the press release will be ignored by everyone, except for the next committee which is tasked with finding a solution. Having found the solution the funding will not be forthcoming as the whole thing has already been written off as a hoax. A few years of fighting for funding and being rebuffed later, the media will pick up on the story again.. perhaps after the threat has been renamed. This time a-solution-the-authorities-have-been-ignoring will be available and someone-better-lose-his-job-over-this. Of course, the solution that came out of that committee was for a situation that hasn't been true for years now, so we need a new committee.. this time with the President's appointment. They'll listen to a dozen different proposals, some of which have already been discarded as worthless, and choose the one that has the best political chance of being enacted quickly. Eventually it'll get funding but the project will stall after 2 years of development, but thankfully some of the runner up concepts also got a trickle of funding. There will be a political fight to fund the more successful project over the stalled project, but that will fail, instead more money will be directed towards the hopeless project, until finally the egos on both sides subside and come up with some "compromise" solution that will half work, averting the complete extinction of human kind but still killing a few million people in a far-off-land. Everyone will swear that next-time-we'll-be-ready but not actually do anything to ensure that's the case.. a few years later researchers will complain that their funding for early warning systems is being cut, and the general public will not care because, hey, it didn't turn out to be as big a deal as they said it was going to be anyway.

  • If... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frozentier (1542099) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @01:15AM (#32941216)
    If they do detect an asteroid on a collision course with earth, I hope they take it more seriously than they took millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. They'll probably just pass legislation banning asteroids from hitting the earth, then debate for years about who's responsibility it is to stop it.
  • by dameron (307970) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:35AM (#32941492) Homepage

    Humans are weird.

    If there were a real Bruckheimer moment, and we were suddenly faced with an extinction level asteroid impact with little time to avert it, we would surely muster as much of our resources as we could to try to avoid certain doom, even if it cost hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars.

    However, if that asteroid were 15 or 20 years away?

    The bickering would continue right up until impact. A small but highly funded group of "astronomers" would assure us that the asteroid would miss the earth entirely.

    And another group of "astronomers" would insist that there was no asteroid at all.

    We're hard wired like Holtzman shields: the sudden, quick attack raises our defenses, while we the slow attack boils us like frogs.

    I maintain hope that we'll avoid a catastrophe that causes us to have to muster our efforts, at least until we progress beyond having to ask how it will impact this quarter's profits.

  • by dylan_- (1661) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:33PM (#32944880) Homepage

    How about this? Astronomers agree with the ruling class that a gigantic hoax would have "positive" effects on society.

    Unbelievably, there are actually people who believe that this could actually happen! Of course, they're the kind of person who're either too lazy or too stupid to just learn a bit of astronomy and check for themselves, yet are still convinced that they know better than anyone who's actually made the effort. But then, there's no shortage of those.

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