Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ignoring a Clear and Present Danger

Ray Villard
Cosmic Ray blogs

"The irony now is that astronomers were quoting a 1 in 10,000 chance of seeing another repeat of the 1994 comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9) impacts on Jupiter in our lifetimes. To everyone’s surprise another comet slammed into Jupiter just a few weeks ago. Granted this wasn’t nearly the scale of SL9, but astronomers were nevertheless left dumbfounded."

"Thankfully, largely privately funded all-sky “movie camera” telescopes planned, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan STARRS) will conduct the task of doing a census on Earth-killers by the end of the next decade."

"But even when rogue asteroids are listed on the astronomical equivalent of “America’s Most Wanted” what are we going to do about it?"

The Inner Solar System, Wednesday morning, August 12, 2009: This map shows the positions of all known asteroids in the inner Solar System. Earth's orbit is white, and all the red and yellow objects are potentially hazardous to life on Earth.

"One of the last men to walk on the moon, Senator Harrison Schmitt, (R-NM), wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that the United States once had the capability, with the Apollo Saturn V rocket, to place a propulsion source on an asteroid and altered its path so as to miss the Earth.

"In the shadow of President Obama’s Augustine Committee that is reviewing NASA’s current manned space program, Schmidt was putting in a plug for the planned Ares V rocket – a monster Saturn V class heavyweight. “The Ares V, combined with a helium-3 fusion propulsion system, would be a giant step toward protecting the Earth in the future,” Schmitt wrote."

"But I cynically can’t imagine lawmakers getting serious about funding an Earth-defense payload, until it is too late..."

Read the Full Posting at, HERE.

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