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Space Science

Two Space Missions Planned To Look For Killer Asteroids 60

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:28PM (#40489403)

    no, people are being conditioned by mass media and government to be in a constant state of emergency and looking for something about which to panic.

    That's an exaggeration. Mass media thinks they can't sell anything if it doesn't have a sensationalistic headline.

  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:02PM (#40489625)

    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 methods to deal with said threats, before we start creating more of them.

  • 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.

  • 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. [] It is 2012.

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

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> 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 [] 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.

  • by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Friday June 29, 2012 @12:31AM (#40490189)

    The cash flush oil industries have been sinking money into alternative fuel sources for quite some time. I am currently working for a company that provides engineering services to the biggest oil and gas pipelines in the US and they are already starting to design non-oil based fuels into their delivery systems. Systems which all the major oil companies currently rely on. Why should the oil companies want to impede alternative fuel delivery systems when they can just include the new sources with the existing? Oil based products will eventually start going down and these companies are the only ones who already have delivery systems in place. If electric or natural gas powered vehicles will never fully take off until they come up with a reliable distribution system. And these systems are expensive to build from scratch but oil companies already have delivery networks for both natural gas and various types of petroleum products in place.

    And a program to detect asteroids is just one more space program that everyone is constantly saying we need but when this proposed project is announced all of a sudden it is labeled as some kind of conspiracy to spend money. You can't have it both ways. Who cares if they ever detect an asteroid the main thing is they are still willing to fund new space initiatives.

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

    by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <(VortexCortex) ( ...> on Friday June 29, 2012 @01:25AM (#40490513)

    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... []

    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...?

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