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Astroids

In: Science

Submitted By vcampb
Words 1233
Pages 5
Abstract

Earth has been under the threat of nearby asteroids since its creation. In the past decade or so there have been some instances that have gain the attention of the higher ups to do something to combat this treat but it isn’t enough. For where they lack the are some people willing to step to the plate to make life on the wonderful planet safe from these planetary disaster bringers.

Early morning of the 15th of February 2013, a bright flash is seen over the southern region of Ural in Russia followed by a window shattering shock wave injuring over 1500 people. June 17th 2002 a large asteroid was discovered floating between earth and the moon. It would have been a routine spotting of an asteroid except for the fact that 3 days prior it was one of the closest passing asteroids in a long time. Not only that, with its size and if it had entered our atmosphere, it could have easily destroyed a city the size of New York without a trace. In both situations had we detected these asteroids with enough advance notice, we could have at least been prepared or some contingency plan in place. Alas our current NEO or Near Earth Objects, detection methods are not up to par. This is why we need to improve on our knowledge and current asteroid detection methods and systems or be doomed to be a planetary statistic. The Chelyabinsk Meteor in Russia was a lucky break. The speed the meteor enters entered the earth’s atmosphere was clocked at close to 43,000 mph. That’s close to 60 times the speed of sound. Thus, though the meteor did not touch down, the mid-air explosion was powerful enough to send a shock wave that injured over 1500 people and blow out windows over two miles away from the explosion point. The cause of the explosion was due to the breaking up of the meteor upon entry itself. Then there was asteroid MN2002 that was detected on June 17th 2002, three days after it passed earth. Now the Chelyabinsk was 20 meters long but MN 2002 was 73 meters moving at 10.6 kilometers per second, (little over 6 miles per second). Despite the fact that it was a much slower moving object, the share mass of it, if it had entered the earth’s atmosphere and touch down it would have caused enough damage to wipe out an entire city. Current NEOs are under surveillance but not all. Due to the share number of asteroids in our solar system asteroid and the 50- 100 meters in size get little or no recognition. Many scientist that study meteors like Brian Marsden, an astrophysics of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics,

believe that there are over a million of the under 100 meter class asteroids may exist but are too faint to see until they venture closer to the Earth. Hecht, 2002 (para.10). Not to mention that if they are in a path in which the sun is behind them in any way, our current methods are useless because the bright light from the sun makes the asteroid virtually invisible. Such is the case in both the Chelyabinsk meteor and MN2002 asteroid. Incidents like those two and others have raised an eyebrow to the danger of the lack of results produced by our current asteroid surveillance systems. So much so that in 2005 Congress asked that NASA’s Near Earth Object program, as a follow up to a request to spend 10 years on a survey that begun in 1998 to find and track 90% of all asteroids greater than one kilometer in size, to now find and track at least 90% of asteroid s that are 140 meters are larger. Unfortunately it does seem that goal will be reached in time. Scientist like Lindley Johnson, the NASA exec in charge of the NEO program agrees that request such as that are what need but the truth is “We’ve done the best we could with the money that’s appropriated for us. The systems we have are for lager objects...We could do it with the assets we have amiable given enough time. But if you want to accomplish it on the order of a decade or two, you of course have to have more capable systems in order to do so” Greenwood (2013) (para 10). Just to put it in perspective, the funding to NASA’s NEO program is about 0.00005 percent of what is spent on Homeland Security. Therefore Congress feels that it is well over 99% more important that we stop a bomb or two than identify a floating space rock that could possibly wipe out an entire city or two. Go figure. Luckily there are other individuals and organizations that do not feel the same way. In March of 2013, the construction and staff of the Pan-STARRS telescope, a telescope located in Hawaii that almost was used for Near Earth Objects and other purposes, federal funding was cut and then saved by an anonymous donation of 3 million dollars. Then there are organizations like The Spaceguard Foundation.

The Spaceguard foundation is non- federal, non-profit, private organization base in Frascati, Italy. It was founded in Rome in 1996 by the Working Group on Near Earth Objects, the (WGNEO), of the International Astronomical Union. Their purpose is to study, discover, and observe potentially dangerous NEOs and their possible collision with earth. Along with the Spaceguard there’s the B612 foundation. The B612, also a non-federal, non-profit organization, goal is to develop Sentinel. Sentinel is a 450 million dollar space telescope satellite project designed to find NEOs. They are hoping to have it ready and sent to launch by the year 2017.Funding for both organizations have been a struggle but due to the events of the Chelyabinsk Meteor, popularity and donations have increased. To say the least, the government sees the treat of asteroids entering our atmosphere and causing possible damage as a potential issue not deserving enough to take major steps to preventing it. It’s like spraying a cheap dollar store bug repellent while standing in the middle of a bee hive and not realizing how dangerous the situation is until getting stung and finding out your allergic. At least there are individuals and organization that do take this treat seriously and are taking steps to protect us all. Makes you think where you stand in the importance of asteroid detection in reference to importance and support. So I asked this of you, read the title again. Where do you stand?

References

Fountain, H. (2013, March 20). Better asteroid detection is needed, experts say. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/science/space/better-asteroid-detection-needed experts-say.html?_r=0
Greenwood, V. (2013, March 26). Why can't we prevent an asteroid strike?. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/space/asteroid-detection-and-deflection/ Harris, A. (2013, March 27). The odds of an asteroid strike . Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/space/risk-of-an-asteroid-strike/ Hecht, J. (2002, June 21). Asteroid's near miss with earth. Retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2444-asteroids-nearmiss-with-earth.html Thompson, B. (Producer) (2013). Space documentary - asteroid the doomsday rock [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu1t1Fevajk

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