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Can NASA, Air Force, and Private Industry Really Mitigate an Asteroid Threat? 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the activate-mr.-willis dept.
coondoggie writes "There has been much chatter about the threat of an asteroid or significant meteor strike on Earth — mostly caused by the untracked meteor that blasted its way to international attention when it exploded in the sky above Russia injuring nearly 1,200 people in February. It was one of those amazing coincidences that on that same day an asteroid NASA had been tracking for months — asteroid 2012 DA14 — was to harmlessly cross Earth's path. Those events and the topic of mitigating asteroid and meteor or Near Earth Object threats to Earth prompted a couple congressional hearings by the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the latest of which was held this week. None of the NEOs found to date have more than a tiny chance of hitting Earth in the next century. Thus the near-term risk of an unwarned impact from large asteroids, and hence the majority of the risk from all NEOs, has been reduced by more than 90%. Assuming none are found to be an impact threat, discovering 90% of the 140 meter sized objects will further reduce the total risk to the 99% level. By finding these objects early enough and tracking their motions over the next 100 years, even those rare objects that might be found threatening could be deflected using existing technologies."
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Can NASA, Air Force, and Private Industry Really Mitigate an Asteroid Threat?

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:17PM (#43428641) Homepage Journal
    This year comet Siding Spring was discovered that may hit Mars at over 200000 mph next year. If that was headed for Earth there is nothing we could do except have an extinction party.
    • by TWX (665546) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:23PM (#43428671)
      Sure, it's possible that nothing can be done about something that size.

      On the other hand, while we haven't managed to deal with protecting the occupants of automobiles when they plunge off cliffs, we have managed to either protect occupants or reduce their injuries with other fairly simple technologies that have dramatically reduced casualty numbers.

      We've had two significant events in about 100 years. I think that it's a good idea to both improve detection and to figure out how to nudge or deflect asteroids. The further out we know of their paths the less costly it is to deflect them.
      • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:27PM (#43428697) Homepage Journal
        I agree that we should do as much as we can about the asteroid problem. Ultimately though the only cure for the long period comet problem is "don't keep all your humans on the same planet."
      • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:49PM (#43428827) Homepage

        We've had two significant events in about 100 years.

        The Tunguska event had one fatality, the Chelyabinsk event had none. That's a total of one for 100 years all across the globe, at least Wikipedia couldn't list any other deaths either. More people have probably died from ingrown toenails. In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes with over 100,000 casualties each. Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none so is there really a big intersection between what is possible and what is worth doing? If you actually had warning and send people to cellars and bomb shelters we should be able to take considerably bigger impacts with no to minimal casualties. You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          We've had two significant events in about 100 years.

          The Tunguska event had one fatality, the Chelyabinsk event had none. That's a total of one for 100 years all across the globe, at least Wikipedia couldn't list any other deaths either. More people have probably died from ingrown toenails. In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes with over 100,000 casualties each. Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none so is there really a big intersection between what is possible and what is worth doing? If you actually had warning and send people to cellars and bomb shelters we should be able to take considerably bigger impacts with no to minimal casualties. You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

          There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

            But don't let that stop you from trying! -- Vault-Tec

          • by khallow (566160)

            There's a small margin between asteroid strikes that require hiding out in shelters to survive, and asteroid strikes that lead to widespread ecosystem collapse, killing nearly everyone in the long term anyway.

            That "small margin" is a few orders of magnitude, both in size and in likelihood.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @09:23PM (#43428979)

          You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid.

          Well, yes. The problem is that the chances of all of us being killed by an asteroid is far, far bigger than extinction by lightning.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @09:24PM (#43428987) Homepage Journal

          "You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid."

          That's what the teacher was saying to her class of juvenile stegosaurus, when the big one hit.

          • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Friday April 12, 2013 @04:10AM (#43430557) Homepage Journal

            Stegosaurus died out 150 million years ago, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event was 66 million years ago. Choose a dinosaur from the Cretaceous period, such as T-rex, Velociraptor, Triceratops or Pterosaur for your example, not one from the Late Jurassic.

            • by Anonymous Coward
              While likely technically correct, now you've ruined all the fun...
            • AC says you've ruined all the fun. I don't think so. Just because you can't find a more recent fossil of a steggy, doesn't mean that the last few survivors didn't hang on, hidden away in a nice quiet valley somewhere. How many OTHER dinos had teachers and classrooms? (need the smiley here, sticking my tongue out at you)

        • The Tunguska event [wikipedia.org] created an explosion 1000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the meteor was smaller than 140m, estimated at 100m. That was over 100 years ago, Earth is a bit more populated now and a hit like that could easily wipe a large city of millions out.

          • by symbolset (646467) *

            This "Siding Spring" comet has only a 1 in 8000 chance of hitting Mars at present given what we know now, maybe less. As it grows closer we will learn more about its mass and trajectory. I hope, as many astronomers do, that it will beat the odds and hit. If it doesn't we will learn some about it because Mars is projected to at the very least pass through its tail, if not its head. If it hits though, that should do it for "how's that space program coming along?" When Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Saturn the stor

        • by terjeber (856226)

          In the same time period we've had seven earthquakes

          The probability of something happening in the future is (in these cases) not related to the historical record.

          Yes, the really big ones are really scary but our chances of deflecting a dino-killer is bordering on none

          If we discover a dino killer in a reasonable time frame prior to impact, chances of deflecting it is equal to our desire to actually invest enough money (perhaps a few hundre million dollars at worst) to actually deflect it. Actually deflecting an asteroid isn't particularly hard if we know where it is an when it is going to hit.

          You're chances of dying by being struck by lightning i far, far bigger than death by asteroid

          Statistically that's not really true. If a dino killer comes along, and

        • Then there's the problem that mass extinctions happen far too regularly (roughly every 56 million years) to be caused by something as random as an asteroid impact. Probably has more to do with Galactic Orbital Dynamics but at least it's easier to predict (Approx 50 million years from now). Now can we get back to flaming trolls :)
        • by symbolset (646467) *

          I think you're smart and your theory is well thought out. You have obviously invested considerable mental energy to it. I don't think you have an ulterior motive.

          But there's this really smart guy who agrees with me. His name is Stephen Hawking [huffingtonpost.com]. He thinks if we don't get off this rock, we're doomed.

      • by s.petry (762400)

        Well, the detection is the biggest issue. We know this because the day we were tracking a close call, we had a strike that nobody saw coming (or at least they never told anyone about it, perhaps because of being helpless to stop it).

        We have to remember, that while a large comet or asteroid strike would cause extinction, so would a hefty rain of smaller space rock. a 5000 ton rock we can detect or 10 50 ton rocks we can't both have a pretty similar chance of causing us to kiss our asses goodbye.

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      You don't think we could convert the whole global economy into a factory that mass-produces ships that go on suicide-nuke missions? If the rich realize they have no choice but to employ everyone on the planet to save their own sorry asses, we could all be put to work. How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:51PM (#43428831)

        How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

        Depends on how high it's been modded.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        You don't think we could convert the whole global economy into a factory that mass-produces ships that go on suicide-nuke missions? If the rich realize they have no choice but to employ everyone on the planet to save their own sorry asses, we could all be put to work. How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

        Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

        • by ClintJCL (264898)
          Just do the convincing 75 years from now... It'll be easier to do then, too.
          • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @09:57PM (#43429135)

            Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

            Convincing the public to spend the money isn't the problem. The US congress, however, is. Just 39 years ago congress so wanted more control over the budget they passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and easily passed it because Nixon was tied up with the Watergate scandal. Fast forward to now and the senate has just recently passed its first budget in four years. But I'm sure it will die in the house, if it even gets that far. If these fucker can't even do something so basic as pass a yearly budget, there is little hope of them looking ahead far enough to worry about anything 150 years in the future. After all, their constituents will be long dead. China is fast becoming a better hope for something like this. At least they still have goals that stretch past the next election cycle.

            Just do the convincing 75 years from now... It'll be easier to do then, too.

            There's the problem with the public. Keeping their attention for such a project in today's sound bite, two minute news clip attention span. The MBA's would get involved and it would all come down to the quarterly returns and then we're screwed.

        • by terjeber (856226)

          Try convincing the public that an asteroid that has a 99% chance of hitting the earth in 150 years is worth spending trillions of dollars on today to launch a probe to deflect it.

          No need to spend trillions. Not even billions. Deflection isn't expensive, it would have a lower budget than the air-conditioning budget of the second Iraq war. That's the insanity of the current situation. This is easy. It is cheap. It can be done with current technologies. We're not doing it.

          Government is broken, thankfully we have Ed Lu and the B612 foundation [b612foundation.org].

        • by bigpat (158134)

          . How many nukes would it take to scatter a comment into less-harmful pieces?

          Freudian slip?

    • Instead of a comet hitting planet Earth and wipe out all lifeforms, a more probable scenario is ...

      A unknown / undiscovered chunk of meteor hit Earth and explode

      The explosion was huge and everyone thought that it was a nuclear strike

      And, before we know, everyone and anyone with any nuclear capability will send their bombs flying, everywhere

      • by istartedi (132515)

        No. At least the US wouldn't react that way. Why? Because NORAD tracks all kinds of things and the profile of a meteor looks nothing like a missile. The missile comes in a parabolic arc at less than escape velocity. The meteor comes in much faster, on a straight line. When you extrapolate back the trajectory you get space, not Russia.

        I assume the Russians and Chinese have similar tracking capability. We also know from experience that even if the Russian systems send a false positive, their commander

    • If it heads for the earth then at least it will be convenient for mining :)

    • by delt0r (999393)
      From Wikipedia:

      The comet is not expected to create a spectacular meteor shower on Mars or be a threat to the spacecraft in orbit or on the ground. The comet will have to be extremely close to Mars for its debris to pose any real risk. Millimeter-sized grains will be ejected at about 1 m/s (2 mph), and would take more than a year to travel 100,000 km from the comet.[7]

      And further down in the same article:

      As of April 2013, the odds of a Mars impact are about 1 in 8000.[13] The 8 April 2013 JPL 3-sigma solution is the first solution to show that the minimum approach by the comet will miss Mars.[2]

      Also from the same article is estimated size does not put this at a extinction level event anyway. A big event to be sure. But we are going to be a little bit harder to knock of than that.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Not to mention NASA has chump change for money, the Air Force is run by gov't. bureaucracy, and private industry is so busy in court they wouldn't know an asteroid was coming until they heard the CRUNCH sound. Like there was a premise for this article to begin with...

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      As of April 2013, the odds of a Mars impact [wikipedia.org] are about 1 in 8000. Looks like it may pass within the orbit of Deimos, but probably not, due to the remaining uncertainty.

    • Opportunity?

      Curiosity!

  • hypothesis (Score:5, Funny)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:21PM (#43428657)

    Big meteors only explode over Russia, if I'm extrapolating correctly from n=2. Therefore they should pay for it.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:31PM (#43428727)

    When there's an incoming asteroid, use a rocket to place a USB stick on it loaded with copyrighted material.

    Within 2 hours, it's trajectory will be altered by the mass of the layers and federal agents swarming it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kaychoro (1340087)
      They've already tried this... that's why the meteors always hit Russia... that's where copyrighted material always ends up.
  • Just paint stars and stripes on it and North Kimmy will take it out for free.

  • ...comets try to mitigate the Earth threat.
  • by zm (257549) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:53PM (#43428841) Homepage
    Unlikely.. but they will gladly make the public believe that something must be done, and then spend a whole lot of money doing something. See also: TSA.
    • by John Marter (3227)
      If they can stop it, I think there is a greater risk that they will create a problem before there is an opportunity to solve a problem.
  • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @08:55PM (#43428847) Homepage Journal
    Most species becomes space faring, the smart ones like Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal leave as soon as they can. The reason we don't hear from anyone else is because they put up warning signs.
    You don't need fancy theories to explain why every other object in the universe is fleeing from us.
    • Yes, that must be it. Woooo OOOOO ooooohhhhh.....
    • by styrotech (136124)

      Most species becomes space faring, the smart ones like Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal leave as soon as they can.

      According to Wikipedia the Cro Mags are still around [wikipedia.org].

      Seriously though: aren't we actually the same species anyway?

      • Seriously though: aren't we actually the same species anyway?

        They didn't buy that down at Monkey World and they're not going to buy it here.

        Stupid sexy monkeys...

  • by dumuzi (1497471)
    No.
    • by edibobb (113989)
      Hey, that's what I was going to say!

      Why not mitigate a real threat, like public ignorance?
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      No.

      Correct. In details:
      * NASA - interested in cosmic objects farther away - the minimal distance Mars (Moon is sooo 1960-ish it's no longer "space")
      * Air Force - busy dealing with fiscal cliffs and sequesters when they aren't pulling their hair over the F-35 project
      * Private industry - there's no profit to be made nor tax exemption opportunities. Even more, the ones that would have the budget to attempt something like this are multinationals - the risk of being affected are much lower than the potential pro

  • Who needs an asteroid to destroy the ecosystem that allows human life as we know it? Our greenhouse gas emission are doing the job fine, and we seem unable to prepare a plan against that threat. Most of the effort is spent arguing with industry-raised deniers.

    This is why there is no risk with an asteroid impact : nobody is making money on it, therefore we will be able to defend against it without first wasting years arguing whether the asteroid is real or if its impact would be really harmful

    • by delt0r (999393)
      Way to exaggerate beyond all reason.

      Even worst case we are going to shift the current equilibrium a little. Earth will remain a very hospitable planet well beyond a little AGW and will be so close to life as we know, that well it will be life as we know it. Almost all ecosystem destruction to this day is habitat removal. Not AGW. But that is far cry from ecosystem removal. Since new ecosystems replace the old.
      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        Since new ecosystems replace the old.

        That is correct. Life does not care how much we can wreck the climate. The problem is that new condition can create an ecosystem incompatible with human life as we know it.

        It already happens with pacific island, where global warming kills coral reefs, leaving beached vulnerable to erosion from the sea. How do you imagine life on US east coast with 10 Katrina-class hurricanes every year?

        • There are no corals on the equator now? Species of corals will shift away from the equator, same as species on land.

          I can't imagine life on the east coast now. More specifically: I can imagine it and it makes me love California even more.

          • by manu0601 (2221348)

            There are no corals on the equator now? Species of corals will shift away from the equator, same as species on land.

            Islands that exist because of coral presence will not move. Too bad for the people that live on them!

        • How do you imagine life on US east coast with 10 Katrina-class hurricanes every year?

          You just pulled that out of a place where the sun don't shine.

          Oh yea its AGW, we are all gonna die. Everyone is dooomed i tell you. The end is nigh.

          What a pile of crap. Do yourself a favor and read what the scientist say and not headlines from tabloids.

          • by manu0601 (2221348)

            Do yourself a favor and read what the scientist say and not headlines from tabloids.

            Like the fact that a warm ocean in tropical zone is the source for hurricanes that move toward the poles, and that warming the ocean helps hurricane creation?

            • And that doesn't make the "10 Katrina per year" any more credible. Like i said. Read what the scientists say. Not what some Hollywood disaster move plot.
              • by manu0601 (2221348)
                "How do you imagine life on US east coast with 10 Katrina-class hurricanes every year?" was a question aiming to imagine a climate changes making human life as we know it impossible. I did not say this was going to happen. In fact just a Katrina every few years would be enough to be a real economical problem.
  • by Grand Facade (35180) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @09:58PM (#43429143)

    The real motivation is to mine the asteroid for rare earth minerals.

    Doing it this way they won't have to pay anyone for the minerals,
    and if they do it right they can get you and I to pay for the trip......

  • by nanospook (521118) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @10:03PM (#43429181)
    I'm more worried about a Korean threat!
  • by nanospook (521118) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @10:06PM (#43429203)
    One of the side thoughts I had about this was military applications. If we can capture asteriods or chunks of rocks, can we drop them into orbit to land on a city? A non-nuclear threat? I was of course thinking of the book "The moon is a harsh mistress".. Otherwise, why is NASA so interested in the topic?
    • by Tackhead (54550)

      One of the side thoughts I had about this was military applications. If we can capture asteriods or chunks of rocks, can we drop them into orbit to land on a city? A non-nuclear threat? I was of course thinking of the book "The moon is a harsh mistress".. Otherwise, why is NASA so interested in the topic?

      Reminds me of this oldie-but-goodie on the evolution of warfare:

      - Throw rock
      - Hit other guy with stick
      - Throw rock with stick on the end of it
      - Shoot stick with rock on end of it at guy with curved s

  • what "threat"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @10:59PM (#43429423)

    There have been no serious asteroid impacts in millennia, if not millions of years. That tells you that these events are extremely rare, and calling them a "threat" is just not justified.

    If anything, space travel and the ability to steer asteroids raises the risk that humans will try to steer asteroids towards earth and use them as gigantic kinetic bombs (fortunately, very slow moving).

  • Hello morons. NASA didn't know about the rock that exploded over Russia until it was too late. None of these bastards can be trusted when they start gibbering on about risks. The truth is THEY ARE FUCKING BLIND. A mole has a better time finding its way in broad daylight than we do seeing crap in space.

    They give us highly detailed pictures of very small parts of the night sky. Great. Awesome in fact. However, we actually DON'T have the kind of wide scale whole sky studying system required to make ANY reliable risk assessments -- Based on... What?! The TINY patches of sky we have studied with great detail, and some other images from murky underfunded telescopes -- Which didn't even detect that we had A DAMN DWARF PLANET called Eris (more massive than Pluto) orbiting our Sun until Just 8 years ago -- they're making risk predictions? Don't make me laugh. Seriously. That's why Pluto's not a planet. If it were we'd have to own up to the fact that there was another PLANET there all along and we didn't see it.... Grr.

    THINK people. The geologic record shows we're over due for a mass extinction event. Might not be an asteroid, maybe gamma burst or volcanic eruption, etc. The point is that we really don't have much of any information at all in any of these respects -- Not the kind we'd need to kick back and rest on our laurels like dinosaurs proclaiming, "Yeah, a few little rocks fell, but no harm really, the sky's not falling..." Right before the sky did fall right on their big ignorant heads.

    I'm not saying we should panic. I'm saying we need to make a concious decision as a race to not become extinct -- To not let our light go out of the Universe just because of greed. We need to swap the budgets of the armed forces and the space programs until this shit is sorted. Once we have more space infrastructure to ensure we're not going to be extincted by the next big rock, THEN we can worry about fighting over petty shit on this planet. All our eggs are in one basket here on Earth. That's moronic. We NEED a self sustaining off-world colony of humans just to ensure the survival of our species. Until we have at least that, then YES, we are in SUPREME DANGER of becoming extinct; In fact, it's a 1:1 probability that our extinction will occur at present.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled not giving a damn about anything beyond your own lifespan. Screw you humans. You'll get yours.

    • by PeterM from Berkeley (15510) <petermardahl&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @11:36PM (#43429609) Journal

      We're already in a mass extinction event. We're wiping out species at a pace that, in a geological-time sense, is indistinguishable from a big asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption.

      And yes, humans are moronic. The kind of investment in humanity's immortality probably won't be made until someone has conquered the entire planet and subjugated the people to such an extent that he doesn't need a huge military budget--and then the effort will be made only if that is the world leader's whim, instead of, say, constructing monuments to himself.

      --PM

      • by Twinbee (767046) on Friday April 12, 2013 @05:13AM (#43430701) Homepage
        Considering dear mother nature has already wiped out over 99% of all species that's existed, I don't think we should put all the weight on ourselves.

        And we're very arguably evolution's finest production to date with our advanced thought, art, music and vision. Not all life is equal.
      • We're already in a mass extinction event. We're wiping out species at a pace that, in a geological-time sense, is indistinguishable from a big asteroid strike or massive volcanic eruption.

        And yes, humans are moronic. The kind of investment in humanity's immortality probably won't be made until someone has conquered the entire planet and subjugated the people to such an extent that he doesn't need a huge military budget--and then the effort will be made only if that is the world leader's whim, instead of, say, constructing monuments to himself.

        --PM

        Or perhaps the more palatable alternative, a situation where the economic model actually reflects the actual resources of the planet and allow us to plan accordingly, as opposed to the 'fairy money' situation that we all accept as the norm at the moment.

    • by styrotech (136124)

      What's the problem with humans going extinct in cataclysmic astronomical event? Who exactly is going care? We certainly won't - we're all dead remember.

    • Right before the sky did fall right on their big ignorant heads

      You can insight hated, troll to your hearts content, insult humanity, hope for our blissful destruction, deride every person on this planet, predict world ending events and judge blind people all you want, but I draw the line at insulting dinosaurs .. that aint right!

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      I think you're preaching to the choir here on Slashdot. I think lots of us think think that way. Swapping the military budget with a space budget is not just desirable in a human-species-saving kinda way, but also just immensely exciting in and of itself. That's why I think so much of people like Elon Musk who are researching things like reusable rockets and fusion rockets [slashdot.org].

      I'm not sure the rock over Russia was a big enough wake up call. I hope it is, but fear that a larger (bot not extinction-level) aste
    • by kermidge (2221646)

      "Screw you humans. You'll get yours."

      Um, unless you're outing yourself as a member of a different species, you're also in the audience that you address, no?

      But you're right. Recently was news of an augmented sky survey group for the Southern Hemisphere, so at least we have a few people looking, both amateur and pro. IIRC NASA in conjunction with others have an effort going and set up an infos clearinghouse. (too lazy now to look it up) Better than nothing so far. Enough? I'm WAGging insufficient data.

  • I think if the United States was hit with couple game changer meteors NASA would have no problem with funding.

    • by isorox (205688)

      I think if the United States was hit with couple game changer meteors NASA would have no problem with funding.

      Unless it's Detroit, noone would notice.

    • only after the united states was destroyed first. Funding would come too late.
      Everything is always reactionary. Show me something that's political that was well thought out prior to the issue becoming a reality.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The other agency is the B612 Foundation. b612foundation.org.

  • by crutchy (1949900)

    instead of trying to move an asteroid, why not move the earth? make a big ass rocket pack, strap it to the ground somewhere and point it at the sky

    don't worry about throwing off climate, tides, etc... just let the politicians figure out who to blame for that stuff

  • Anyone who thinks that DOD and NASA can work together on anything without it costing far more than it should before imploding due to inter-agency bickering and turf wars should check on the history of the NPOESS weather satellite program (although they did have lots of "help" from NOAA on that debacle). This will be particularly true if all involved see this as a cash cow in these days of waning budgets. Just assign it to one agency, make them responsible if they muck it up, and set up a truly independent

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