back to article NASA eggheads draw up blueprints for spotting, surviving asteroid hits

The US government has published a report detailing how to prepare for the danger of impacts from asteroids that stray too close to Earth in the next ten years. Classified as near-earth objects (NEOs), these are a group of bodies in the Solar System that are less than 1.3 astronomical units – the distance between the Earth and …

  1. 89724102172714582892524I9751670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996312855148583659264921

    Chicken Little

    We need a planetary defence grid composed of frikkin lasers and nukes ASAP!

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Chicken Little

      We are going to recycle all those used Falcon boosters, turn them upside down and then we will be able to move the Earth out of the way of any nasty asteroids. The Space Protection Force will be tasked with protecting our planet from the scum of the universe .. and of course separating alien child species from their parental units.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Chicken Little

        Moving the Earth the plot of the movie 'Gorath'. Yes, it has an overabundance of cheeeez...

  2. cbars

    defence grid?

    nah, we just need more space junk! All these ideas to save us are to hit big objects with little ones, well, let's get some more little objects up there flying around!



  3. lglethal Silver badge

    2 points here

    "It called for NASA’s Administrator to “pursue capabilities, in cooperation with other departments, agencies, and commercial partners, to detect, track, catalog, and characterize near-Earth objects to reduce the risk of harm to humans from an unexpected impact on our planet.”

    1) What is the additional budget for NASA to perform all of these new tasks? If no budget is forthcoming now, then dont expect NASA to be able to do anything when the big one is incoming later....

    2) in cooperation with commerical partners. Right.... Because there are profits to be made spotting asteroids? Funnily enough, I havent heard of any firms doing this previously. How are you going to make it so profitable that firms start building facilities?

    A good sentiment, and something that needs to be thought about and prepared for, but I'm reading a lot of hot air and wishful thinking here. I'll believe its being taken care of properly when I see significant funds being given to NASA for this task alone (and not merely being stolen from other NASA missions).

    1. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: 2 points here

      Making it profitable? How about asteroid impact insurance? Maybe that will be the next big thing.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: 2 points here

        "How about asteroid impact insurance?"

        Given the odds, I think I'll self-insure.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 2 points here

      "Because there are profits to be made spotting asteroids?"

      Well, if you're into mining them, the ones that are already heading at the Earth will be easy to fly to (and hopefully re-direct).

      That said, the only private entity I know of currently tracking asteroids is the B612 Foundation, but they're a non-profit just trying to keep us all safe.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: 2 points here

        B612 is trying to keep us informed, but there is still a lot of working out to come up with something to push things out of the way.

        Perhaps an Earth defense system should be a higher priority than sending a flag planting team to Mars. There are lots of ideas but, so far, no money to try them out. Basing a system on the moon could be a good plan. It takes a much smaller rocket to launch from the moon and the launch site can have a permanently cleared safety zone downrange where it's pretty certain that a random person isn't going to wander across scrubbing a launch.

        Asteroids are tough to spot so any defense system is going to need to be able to be deployed very quickly. Comets can be seen further out, but there still wouldn't be time to custom design and build something to deflect it. There would have to be something in the bull pen ready to go. Preferably something that has been tested a few times.

        1. Jimmy2Cows

          Re: scrubbed launches

          Well General, Sir, Asteriod Redirectors for Saving Earth launches were green, but then some bugger in a row-boat was fishing downrange so we had to scrub our ARSEs.

          In missing the ARSE launch window I'm afraid that means humanity is boned, Sir.

          Yeah. Not gonna happen.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 points here

      With regard to "develop[ing] technologies for NEO deflection and disruption missions": this is a potential weapons system of devastating capability and if not done cooperatively with the rest of the world is likely to lead to a new arms race.

      Commercial partners will be building everything, of course, but in view of the weapons capability, I can't see how they could be permitted to operate anything.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: 2 points here

        "Commercial partners will be building everything, of course, but in view of the weapons capability, I can't see how they could be permitted to operate anything."

        I don't think you fully understand the current "best government money can buy" system.

    4. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      @lglethal - Re: 2 points here

      1) Funding is comming from all that climate change stuff the Washington Wotsit told them to stop investigating.

      2) Plenty profit to be made from developing asteroid deflection/destruction tools, will generally have alternate less peacefull applications.

      also detection technology will prove quite profitable too - pattern recognition algorithms work great for identifying those terrorists.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Build that Wall!

    and go even further and put a bubble over the whole lower 48 states. That way, the metorite of doom would simply bounce off and land on Iran/N. Korea/next country in their firing line.

    Well, that's what Trump would tell the nation (by Tweet naturally).


    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Build that Wall!

      Brilliant idea. And make sure it's completely sealed and airtight, with no doors. Then the rest of us can have peace until the day the meteor of doom bounces off and lands in our Cornflakes.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Build that Wall!

        To save money, how about we just put it over Washington DC? Would you chaps like one over Parliament? There's savings if we do a group order.

  5. Rich 11 Silver badge

    planetary defense officer

    Now that is a job title you can be proud of!

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not sure about that. If your only job is to constantly try and get funding for something to be done without actually getting anything done, it doesn't sound so glorious.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Much like all our jobs, then....

  6. Rich 11 Silver badge

    However, before then NASA needs to update protocols for notifying the White House, Congress, and the public of potential threats.

    Just as long as the protocol only involves notification and not waiting for approval. Can you imagine trying to explain the concept of an asteroid to those in Congress who profess Biblical inerrancy and believe the heavens are a dome of ice supported by the pillars of the Earth?

    1. AK565

      Agreed. If you recall it wasn't that long ago that a member of this body patiently explained that improper expansion of the US naval base io Guam could cause the island to tip over:

  7. Chozo

    Sounds like a job for the US Space Force

    I'll get my pressure suit, it's the one with the Space Sharks patch

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Need to launch a lot more telescopes. Ooh, look. There are some nice galaxies and things in the background.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Need to launch a lot more telescopes.

      We always need more telescopes. For example, the recent Hawaiian eruptions only occurred because the volcano didn't feel it had enough telescopes in its larder. :-)

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    "manage the consequences of NEO impacts where impact prevention is not feasible, preferable, or successful."

    I imagine, with Trump in charge, then if impact is on a ****hole country (his phrase) then the not preferable to prevent option kicks in ..

    1. onefang Silver badge

      "I imagine, with Trump in charge, then if impact is on a ****hole country (his phrase) then the not preferable to prevent option kicks in .."

      I was gonna make a similar comment about the word "preferable". Have an upvote, and a refreshing beverage of your choice.

  10. Geekpride

    Return of Star Wars

    The cynical side of me thinks that any new anti-asteroid stuff that comes out of this would also be applicable to anti-satellite weaponry and possibly ICBM interception.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Return of Star Wars

      Not necessarily - I would expect the sort of range the latter is expected to exist at to be utterly "too late" for any kind of attempt to intercept the former (and vice versa - you'd expect a window of opportunity of more than a few minutes for an asteroid, less so for an ICBM). I would also expect a significant mismatch in mass and velocity of the incoming target, so I'm not sure how much of an overlap there actually is...

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Return of Star Wars

      Anything that is going to work and not just turn an incoming chunk of rock into lots of incoming rocks isn't going to be very useful as a space weapon. Or, it will be less effective than space weapons already in stock.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Return of Star Wars

        I bet the politicians green-lighting this think differently.

  11. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Border patrol

    If you are trying to cross into the US illegally, you have committed a crime. When you are picked up, you are being arrested. In what country are persons being held in jail allowed to have their children with them? (please choose a first world country). The policy of holding the children is a separate facility was a policy put in place during the Obama administration. If was felt that it would be better for the children if they were someplace set up to take care of kids rather than a higher security detention center that wasn't.

    The problem of illegal immigration to the US is a big one. Many of the countries to the south haven't had an exemplary past of human rights or opportunities. The US is thought of as a land of gold and it very obviously isn't. It also can't absorb the numbers of uneducated and unskilled people that can't speak English (American) that flood across the borders every year.

    There is no perfect solution. The best that can be done is to process people as fast as possible, reunite the families and deport them. People coming across as a family could even get priority. The only positive note with how it's being handled now is that it might be a deterrent.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Border patrol

        @mark 85 Tell the author then - it was their offtopic snide comment at the end of the article being responded to. I'd just as soon leave politics out of all this myself, the author engages in it, it's not unexpected there will be a response to it.

        Maybe we should thank the author, actually, for making it clear they are pushing an agenda other than reporting facts or entertaining us....

        This crud discredits those who do it, you'd hope they'd learn.

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: Border patrol

      The thing about crossing the border illegally is this: it's actually NOT illegal to cross a border when seeking asylum. This means the arrests and imprisonments are themselves illegal acts, and so are the separations.

      1. mrobaer

        Re: Border patrol

        Here's the thing. There are many places to apply for asylum in Mexico (embassy and consulates). Also, you can do so at the border crossing. If you cross elsewhere, and are seeking asylum to the US, you have a year to apply.

        Arresting people on the suspicion of illegal immigration is not illegal. People are arrested all the time, in every country, due to being suspects of criminal activity. Then the judicial process goes to work and if asylum is granted, the migrant is released and not deported. It's not rocket science. It's rather close to common sense.

        Also, asylum seekers only make up about 1/10th of the migrants to the US. We get about twice as many migrants from Mexico than from the number two 'sender' China. I speculate that the majority of the migrants are simply seeking a better life, which is certainly attainable here.

        Speaking of Mexico, their immigration laws are much stricter than ours. They have a similar southern border problem, probably even worse. Yet, where are they in the news cycle?

  12. ThatOne Silver badge

    > how to prepare for the danger of impacts from asteroids

    Stick head in sand, I guess?

    It's all NASA can afford to suggest anyway, since I guess that new task will come with the required budget cut. Oh, sorry, I forgot; "Work smarter, not harder", that alleviates all budget issues of course.

  13. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    That comma, I do not like

    NASA eggheads draw up blueprints for spotting, surviving asteroid hits

    I can't put my finger on why this ungrammatical kind of American English (apparently reserved only for use in news headlines!) annoys me so much. May I kindly suggest the British English replacement

    NASA eggheads draw up blueprints for spotting and surviving asteroid hits

  14. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    NASA reckons there are more than 300,000 objects bigger than 40 metres that could be hazardous to Earth. It is estimated that 25,000 NEAs are at least 140 metres in size. Despite the large sizes of NEOs, they’re difficult to detect more than a few days in advance of a possible impact.

    Although the *consequences* of a 40 metre rock hitting the Earth are substantial, on the scale of space, 40 metres is actually pretty small, and that smallness is what makes them hard to detect. Even 140 metres is hard to spot when it's way over there.

  15. Wellyboot Silver badge

    UN oversight?

    Wouldn't the UN be a sensible place to put oversight for planetary defence?

    Just in case some other nations decide this is a military operation and start building their own risk reduction systems.

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: UN oversight?

      Yeah, the UN will prove once more how useful it is... when the UN Space Protection Council (SPOC?) rules something that a member doesn't like, that member won't be able to simply walk away, because the UN resolutions are so binding and it has so much muscle to make the countries comply.

      It is not like it just happened with... with... no, I can't recall a super power leaving a UN organization in the last weeks, with the organization being worse than useless to stop it

  16. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Grammar Nazi...

    carried about 20 to 30 times more energy than what was released by the first atomic bombs.

    carried about 20 to 30 times more energy than that which was released by the first atomic bombs.


  17. Zebo-the-Fat

    Turn it!

    Just get the flat earthers to agree to turn the earth so it is edge on to the asteroid thus providing a much smaller target!

  18. Pete4000uk

    Dark asteroids and space

    One of the problems are space rocks are dark, as is space. So we need some large bright lights to light things up so we can see them sooner.

    Or use some kind of radar

  19. RobertsonCR7

    can everybody put the helmets on

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Martin Budden

    Build a wall around Earth

    and make the asteroids pay for it.

  22. MAF

    Obligatory film reference

    Just need to rotate Hercules and Peter the Great 180 degrees and we'll have plenty of nuke to destroy any pesky space-rock

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plan A for spoting and avoiding extra planetary objects

    1] look up occasionally

    2] duck down so they don't hit you

    Alternately Plan B

    we could mine them all, hence removing them from the area likely to fly by earth.

    Miners could push a bunch into their piece of the solar system so nobody else can have them until they have mined all they want, then push the residue into Jupiter.

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