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UN Mounts Asteroid Defense Plan Following Chelyabinsk Meteor 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the bruce-willis-on-call dept.
Philip Ross writes "Astronomers have warned that our planet is long overdue for a defense plan against catastrophic asteroid collisions. When it comes to deflecting Earth-obliterating celestial bodies, short of a superhero capable of punching the approaching rock back into outer space, there is no single force dedicated to stopping cosmic bullies from striking our little blue planet straight in the eye. That's why the United Nations said it will establish an International Asteroid Warning Group to intercept and divert dangerous asteroids."
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UN Mounts Asteroid Defense Plan Following Chelyabinsk Meteor

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  • Deflection (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @04:21AM (#45277917)

    Because nothing is as effective at deflecting tons of rock coming towards Earth at extremely high speeds as... a committee.

  • Hit Earth with a massive asteroid once; shame on me.

    Hit Earth with a massive asteroid twice; shame on the few surviving cockroaches.

    • Could I say, "Ea is my copilot"? Ea, the clever prince, Ea, the one who said that to rescue the dead, an immortal would have to give up his immortality? Ea -- ummm, EaShua, 'salvation of Ea' --- who did exactly that, 2000 years ago?

      We've already been hit with a massive asteroid, and it made the Chevrons of Madagascar; it caused the few survivors around the world to focus on building pyramids; and it is recorded in the stores of Noah.

      Excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI:

      Ea, the Clever Prince(?), w

  • Cue American sovereignty tinfoilers in 3...2...
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      ... Because...the UN has it's HQ in NY?

      I don't see the link here. The tinfoil must be weak in me.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "... Because...the UN has it's HQ in NY?

        I don't see the link here. The tinfoil must be weak in me."

        No, because Ted Turner will have to pay for your part.
        Again.

  • by stiggle (649614) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @05:05AM (#45278077)

    The main issue we've got is the lack of warning we have. Even a year is too late if you want to divert large lumps of rock.
    Once you're going to divert something then you have to work out where its going to end up - no point diverting it from the earth this year, to have it end up crashing into something else which ends up sending 100 rocks at us.

    • by isorox (205688) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @05:17AM (#45278115) Homepage Journal

      The main issue we've got is the lack of warning we have. Even a year is too late if you want to divert large lumps of rock.
      Once you're going to divert something then you have to work out where its going to end up - no point diverting it from the earth this year, to have it end up crashing into something else which ends up sending 100 rocks at us.

      Depends on the size, if diverting an extinction causing asteroid now means we have to divert 4 in 100 years, I'll take that.

    • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @06:08AM (#45278317)

      Reliable, visual-range detection of meteors is doubtful since they get covered by dust which can be very dark.

      What's needed is a type of active radar with Doppler shift detection. You might be able to put an existing one of those on the ISS to start with, say from tech developed for fighter airplanes. Better not sink money into developing them all over again unless that is actually needed.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      With smaller pieces, you have more surface area to burn up as they go through the atmosphere. This gets better the more, smaller pieces there are. Not sure how powerful the explosive would have to be to break a sizable asteroid (say 1km diameter) though.
    • No idea about asteroids meteorites and stuff like that, but if "diverting it to something that will send 100 rocks at us back" is a problem, then divert it towards the sun.
      Or am I missing something ?

      • No idea about asteroids meteorites and stuff like that, but if "diverting it to something that will send 100 rocks at us back" is a problem, then divert it towards the sun.
        Or am I missing something ?

        Given a year's warning, a 1m/s deltaV applied to the rock should be enough to make it miss. This time.

        Given the same year's warning, it would take around 30000 m/s deltaV to make the rock impact the Sun.

    • Since you're so apt to analyze the risk plane, why don't you do that for us, Captain Genius? Plot out the various risks for us and show what's likely and what we should worry about. Those kinds of super-star powers would be amazing, since humans have no clue how to assess risk [wikimedia.org].
  • The UN? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rts008 (812749) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @05:14AM (#45278101) Journal

    I don't think a strongly worded protest/condemnation and/or sanctions will be noticed by an incoming asteroid. ;-)

  • You never see the one that gets you. While we'll be feeling safe and secure and oh so smart that we saved ourselves from the scary space rocks... BLAM!!! A big one comes out from behind the Sun and smashes into us. Game over.

    At least we'll have some time to try and divert asteroids coming from where we can see them. It's the ones we don't see that keep me awake at night.

    • An asteroid that comes from behind the sun has gotten there short before, or it isn't going to hit us. That's because asteroids are in orbits around the sun. A useful early warning system would warn us years in advance, thus the asteroid would be behind the sun several times before it hits.
      The first step is detecting them. At this point it is not feasible to get funding for an asteroid deflection program. Once we have detected a killer we can get the funding to try and deflect it. I just hope we'll be abl
      • If you need funding to deflect a planet-killing asteroid, your planet deserves to die. Seriously do you live on a planet full of Arabs?

        • Why shouldn't such a project need funding? Granted, funding it shouldn't be a problem once one is detected, but that doesn't mean it's not required. Stuff costs money, get over it.
          • by cusco (717999)

            Supposedly the holy Free Market will provide the one true solution.

            • Free markets seem to be as real as any God. People pray to it, but what they point to is a political tool abused until it doesn't resemble the original intention. The real thing doesn't exist.
          • Sir, we are OUT OF BUDGET! We can't afford these new booster throats!

            ... what? You won't give us a discount? We can't afford to PAY at all! Can't you just, you know, give them to us?

            ... running a business ARE YOU INSANE?! IN FOURTEEN DAYS THERE WON'T EVEN BE A PLANET HERE!

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @06:08AM (#45278315)
    the UN can send a diplomat in to space to negotiate with the asteroid
  • UN Official #1: "Sir! An asteroid on a direct collision course has been spotted! Impact in 5 days!"

    UN Official #2: "Plenty of time. We've fired the missiles, each loaded with a STERNLY-WORDED letter ..."

  • We need some real numbers. If there is only a 50% chance of being hit by a city shattering meteorite in the next 10,000 I don't think it is worth bothering. I know it will suck if it landed in my backyard or even my front porch, but it is not worth it. There are other things we should spend money on like super volcanoes or massive earth splitting earthquakes or even rogue killer bees that spread zombie viruses.
    • by confused one (671304) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @08:22AM (#45279113)
      we have preliminary numbers. Russia has been hit by potential city shattering meteorites twice in a hundred years. If the Tunguska event happened over a populated area it would no longer have been populated. If Chelyabinsk had entered at a slightly steeper angle, it would have been significantly worse. As it is, it entered at a shallow enough angle that it broke up high in the atmosphere and reducing the effect of the shock wave. We have a reasonable handle on the larger nation killing, and extinction causing, world ending variety. What we don't have is sufficient tracking data on the smaller city killers.
      • by cusco (717999)

        Rather wonder if the current rate of medium-size meteors isn't just a statistical fluke. Comet Shoemaker-Levy was described as a once in a hundred or even once in a thousand year event that we were being treated to. Since that time there have been three or possibly four more similar-sized events on Jupiter that we didn't see happen, we just saw the effects of. The first meteor impact that we managed to observe on the Moon was also described as something that was supposed to be exceedingly rare, and now w

  • We would need:
    1. A system to track "anything larger than a certain size"(tm) moving within out solar system and within "a certain maximum amount of time"(tm)
    2. A reliable way to deflect/destroy "anything larger than a certain size"
    3. A system to implement that way within "a certain maximum amount of time"(tm) available 24x7
    4. The same as above multiplied by 2 or maybe 3, just in case.

    It would take not less than 100 or 200 years, just to reach the agreement about who is going to look into it.
    • Then we shouldn't do it. While your at it, please turn over all technology in your possession that didn't exist 200 years ago and, at the time, would have been considered impractical or impossible. Cell phones, automobiles, computers, implanted medical devices, plastics and synthetic fibers, electric lighting and refrigeration... to name a few items.
      • by aglider (2435074)
        None of the mentioned technologies costed the mankind billions per year for years. But I could be wrong.
        • But they do.

          Medical fields, electronics and semiconductor industry, chemical industry all spend billions each year. Automotive industry income sheets read in the billions per quarter and they all have substantial R&D expenses. The cost to build and maintain power plants and infrastructure runs into billions per year, nationwide.

          Research into lighting technology, not so much; but, without the supporting infrastructure there would be no electric lights to begin with. I referred to lighting and refr

    • A few countries were able to work together to put a science station in orbit for the sake of scientific experiments, I think protecting the future of mankind is important enough that even more countries would help in any way they can to support this ADP.

      • by aglider (2435074)
        The ISS is almost dead ... and cannot even deflect a baseball sized body ... yet it costed billions ...
    • Just imagine how stupid the rest of the world will look when an asteroid gets on a collision course with earth, so North Korea nukes it and saves the planet.

  • by mrthoughtful (466814) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @07:39AM (#45278761) Journal

    To me this looks like an agreement by the UN to help fund NASA's existing NEO program ( http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov] ).

  • "Astronomers have warned that our planet is long overdue for a defense plan against catastrophic asteroid collisions"

    Meanwhile, we do nothing about all those earthquakes, which actually kill people.

    Man against Nature! On to Victory!

    • by cusco (717999)

      Have you some new method of preventing earthquakes? I'm sure the Nobel Prize committee would be interested in hearing about it.

  • UN-SPIDER [un-spider.org]?

  • As if anything will happen anyway. First thing will be to set up a commission and staff it with representatives mostly from the Earth-destroying asteroids (Human Rights Commission) or they will endlessly discuss whether the asteroid really represents a danger or not (Security Council).

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