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Space Science

Two Space Missions Planned To Look For Killer Asteroids 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the extinction-level-event dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Today, the B612 Foundation announced it's seeking private funds to build Sentinel, a space mission to find Earth-threatening asteroids. Placed in a Venus-like orbit, it should find a large fraction of these potentially hazardous rocks. At the same time, the NEOCam (Near Earth Object camera) website went live today. This is a separate, publicly-funded space mission also designed to look for these asteroids. While Sentinel will concentrate on finding them and getting accurate positions and orbits, NEOCam will focus more on getting their physical characteristics. While not strictly competing with each other, they are more complementary; with both missions flying (in the 2017 time range) we will learn a huge amount about the asteroid threat from space."
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Two Space Missions Planned To Look For Killer Asteroids

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  • Waste of money (Score:1, Informative)

    by Teresita (982888)
    When was the last time in recorded history an asteroid landed on people? That's right, never. Even the Tunguska thing flattened a lot of trees but killed no one. That's because the Earth isn't rigged like Coruscant, or Trantor. But if you want to look for rocks which have essentially the same orbit as the Earth, and could be nudged into a double-lunar capture to become a source of raw materials in cis-lunar space, I'll sign up for that one.
    • Use technology designed to find asteroids that could hit earth in order to nudge asteroids closer to earth.

      I think your idea is suicidal. This will encourage us to find an adequate method of deflecting or completely eliminating the threats posed by asteroids, which will increase in number if we start playing with their orbits. In addition, if there was a real threat, the whole world might actually wake up and stop killing each other, if only for a short period of time.

      Let's first determine threats, and find

      • by Teresita (982888)
        Knowing all those megatons of iron are waiting up there will have a quieting effect on the world's population.
      • by delt0r (999393)

        ..the whole world might actually wake up and stop killing each other..

        I know its the classic feeling of how we all behave. But its wrong. Otherwise there wouldn't be 7 billion of us on this planet. For the most part, we are not in fact very good at killing each other.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Regardless, interplanetary and interstellar cartography is a subject of interest among astronomers. Asteroids haven't landed on people, but they're widely regarded to be responsible for some fairly large extinction events back in the day.

    • Re:Waste of money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:13PM (#40489691) Homepage Journal

      Millons or even most of mankind could die, but the banks will be healthy and alive. That is a better use for that money

      Seriously, if a killer asteroid were coming to Earth 100 or 1000 years ago, we were out of luck, no good way to detect it till it was too late, no way to stop or deflect it. The others that had that coming before are oil by now, and of course, if they had money by then it would had lost all meaning shortly after the hit. So, if something of that kind is in our way using almost all the money in the world to detect and do something to avoid that fate will be a good investment.

    • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Friday June 29, 2012 @12:28AM (#40490163) Journal

      Well we DO seem to have extinction level events, several of which are believed to be asteroids, and there is Apophis [wikipedia.org] which may come close enough in 2029 to get pulled in for a hit in 2036. And that is what we know about, no telling what we don't.

      Now am I saying the odds or good, or even better than hitting the powerball? nope, but it doesn't hurt to know more about what is out there and frankly space science has been so damned gutted the past few years if we can get some new birds up there scanning the skies by saying "ZOMFG we may need Bruce Willis and a crazy Russian ZOMFG!" then frankly I'm for it. Just imagine what we'll learn about what is out there even if it isn't gonna hit us? We may find asteroids that are good sources of raw materials, hell with space exploration frankly you'll never know what you are gonna find until you do it.

      So sign me up, seems a better use of money than pissing another trillion down the drain blowing some country up so we can hand out no bid contracts just to rebuild it again.

    • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Friday June 29, 2012 @01:25AM (#40490513) Homepage

      When was the last time in recorded history an asteroid landed on people?

      We're fucking overdue you twit.

      Our current Asteroid watchers miss REALLY HUGE THINGS drifting around in the back yard... [wikipedia.org]

      Eris, is the most massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth most massive body known to orbit the Sun directly. It is estimated to be approximately 2300–2400 km in diameter, and 27% more massive than Pluto, or about 0.27% of the Earth's mass.

      Eris was discovered in January 2005 by a Palomar Observatory-based team led by Mike Brown, and its identity was verified later that year.

      We're basically blind. Something around Pluto's size with 27% more mass was just discovered in 2005... That doesn't mean it wasn't there until 2005, it means we need more eyes in the sky. What if it had been on a collision course with us?! We'd have been kicking ourselves for not "wasting" more money on the space program for the previous 35 years then, eh? (Eris is a big reason why Pluto isn't called a planet anymore, don't you keep up with the basic solar system science? I mean, you're posting about it...)

      The dinosaurs didn't have a space program. Not looking for asteroids doesn't make them go away. While you're burring your head in the sand, how do you ignore the fossil record within it?

      If we start RIGHT NOW, we might have enough time to get some pioneers like Elon Musk and his SpaceX team out to the asteroid belt, bump a few big rocks into Lunar Orbit, ready to sling them at any incoming to use as a gravity tug or to hit the planet-killers (you don't have to smash it, just tap it). Hell, maybe even mine a few while we're at it, but at least we'd be somewhat armed. A blind sniper is useless.

      We won't be able to stop something the size of Eris this late in the game, but we may be able to set up a few permanent self sustainable colonies so all our eggs aren't in one fucking basket. I wish people like you would just go die in a fire before you condemn us all to such a fate.. Your moronic votes deprive us of space exploration funding, and could mean the end of mankind all because you're just an ignorant fool who thinks they know a hell of a lot more than they actually do.

      • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

        by delt0r (999393) on Friday June 29, 2012 @06:58AM (#40491929)
        Eris is a trans-Neptunian object. That is it orbits the sun further out than Neptune. It is between 37 to 98 times further away from the sun than earth depending on which part of its orbit its in. It is not even close to a impact risk and tells us *nothing* about if we can detect potential extinction level events.

        We're fucking overdue you twit.

        No we are not, and you have a potty mouth.

        • Re:Waste of money (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Golddess (1361003) on Friday June 29, 2012 @10:54AM (#40494061)

          It is not even close to a impact risk

          GP never claimed it was.

          and tells us *nothing* about if we can detect potential extinction level events.

          I disagree. If a rock such as Eris can go un-noticed for 75 years after a rock such as Pluto is discovered, I think it says we could be looking harder.

          We're fucking overdue you twit.

          No we are not

          There does seem to be a lack of consensus regarding this.. if memory serves correct, some say we're not due for some time, some say we're simply due, and others say we've been overdue by up to 30 million years. Personally, I don't see that it matters. It has happened in the past, will happen in the future, and at present, we are unprepared for it. One could make the argument that "we should fix the problems here first otherwise why does it fucking matter?", but I feel that overlooks the possibility that our becoming prepared for an impact event could become the means for fixing problems on this mudball. NASA's advancements didn't just benefit the space program after all. And no, that doesn't mean focusing all of our resources on asteroid detection and impact event mitigation.

          and you have a potty mouth.

          And that is pertinent to the discussion because...?

          • by delt0r (999393)
            From the wiki:

            Eris currently has an apparent magnitude of 18.7, making it bright enough to be detectable to some amateur telescopes. A 200 mm telescope with a CCD can detect Eris under favourable conditions.[c] The reason it had not been noticed until now is its steep orbital inclination; most searches for large outer Solar System objects concentrate on the ecliptic plane, where most bodies are found.

            We didn't see it because we didn't bother looking. Earth crossing objects, yea we are looking. To use this as an example of how we are blind to potential earth impact objects is plain stupid.

            There does seem to be a lack of consensus regarding this..

            Not really. Its a probabilistic model. The chance of it happening every year is the same. No matter how many years there hasn't been one, does not make it more likely the next year. Just because there was one last year, also doesn't change the odds of one happening next year. You are not due or over due or

    • Waste of money? Remind me never to hire you to do my risk assessments.

      Spending a tiny fraction of your revenues to negate potential show stoppers is usually considered good business practice.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      ...and could be nudged into a double-lunar capture to become a source of raw materials in cis-lunar space, I'll sign up for that one.

      Ooopps... sorry... it slipped my fingers (bye southern China. North-eastern US coast was nice, wish you could see it).

    • Dinosaurs aren't people? You're classist, you are!

  • Dinosaurs: "WTF mankind? Where were you during the cretaceous? FML."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dinosaurs: "WTF mankind? Where were you during the cretaceous? FML."

      It wasn't a comet that got them, it was man-made global warming that killed them off. Damn that George W Bush for not signing the Kyoto treaty 300 million years ago!

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:45PM (#40489923)

    Might as well be now. Could spur space development, new technology, all kinds of interesting stuff. Plus, you know, stop the next bolide.

    See Chicxulub Crater. [wikipedia.org] It is 2012.

  • Naming rights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wisebabo (638845) on Friday June 29, 2012 @12:02AM (#40490035) Journal

    I'm not sure about the rules involved but doesn't the IAAA (or something) allow the "discoverer" (which in this case I guess will be a corporation) to name minor bodies and maybe even other things like comets.

    So they should allow their sponsors to name these bodies in their stead. They're going to find thousands if not tens or even hundreds of thousands depending on the sensitivity of the instruments.

    I won't donate money to save the world but to have my own private Idaho, I mean asteroid, would be cool! Especially if I knew it would wipe out all life on earth! I'll be famous (for a short time at least).

    Even better would be a U.N. treaty saying that for objects up to say 1km in size, the first person to characterize a body's orbit would get to OWN IT! Not only would this make a lot of people into asteroid hunters but it would really promote the development of technology to exploit them, especially if such ownership would expire in say 20 years if no landings were achieved. It is been said that the best way to get undeveloped countries in like Africa to develop would be to get clear and effective (supported by government) title to land; this provides the incentive to invest. (I don't know what the current laws are, presumably there is something in place to allow the Google guys to profit from their asteroid venture).

    By the way, what's the LOWER limit for the size of a minor body (I think the upper limit are "dwarf planets"). 500 meters? 5 meters? 5 centimeters?

    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      I don't know what the current laws are, presumably there is something in place to allow the Google guys to profit from their asteroid venture.

      Yeah. Finders/Keepers. When you are the only ones around ownership is something of a moot point.

    • "When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks."
      -Fight Club Narrator
  • by Jethro (14165)

    People are buying phones like mad. RIM didn't keep up with the times - they figured they've got Business Users all tied up, and why would business users want a shiny new iPhone? Well, at ${LARGE_COMPANY} where I work, us peons have been asking for iPhones forever and been told no, never gonna happen. Then the managers started wanting them, and the rest is history.

    • by Jethro (14165)

      Wait a minute... this isn't the story I clicked on...

      • People are buying phones like mad. RIM didn't keep up with the times - they figured they've got Business Users all tied up, and why would business users want a shiny new iPhone? Well, at ${LARGE_COMPANY} where I work, us peons have been asking for iPhones forever and been told no, never gonna happen. Then the managers started wanting them, and the rest is history.

        ...

        Wait a minute... this isn't the story I clicked on...

        So you're saying it would have been easier to serve Julian Assange with an Extradition Notice if the British Police's management demanded iphones?

        • by Jethro (14165)

          Don't be ridiculous. I'm saying management demanding iPhones is what caused global warming.

  • NEOCam and Sentinel sound like they're primed for accidental sentience before they come up with the decision that the biggest threat to Earth are it's inhabitants.
  • I don't want to tell these people how to do their jobs but it seems to me like they should also, at the same time, invent tested and working technology to stop an asteroid as well or it sort of defeats the purpose.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

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