[FPSPACE] What should NASA be?[Scanned by MAIL]
dstdba at post4.tele.dk
Wed Apr 4 13:50:44 EDT 2007
From: Matula, Thomas L. [mailto:MATULAT at uhv.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 7:14 PM
> Yes detection is a separate issue and currently over 5,000
> new NEOs are found every month, the vast majority thanks to
> the LINEAR program at U.S Air Force tracking station at White
> Sands Missile Range.
> Even NASA JPL notes they, not NASA, are responsible for the
> vast majority of those being found.
> So while NASA is still studying how to build telescopes to
> search for NEOs the U.S. Air Force has them already and has
> been using them to find thousands a month, including some as
> small as 30 meters (city busters) and has been doing so since 2002.
> Once again, if you want action give the job to the agency
> which has demonstrated it is action oriented and demonstrated
> it WANTS to do the job by finding ways of using its
> facilities and money in its budget to do so.
It would be ok to trust PHO detection to Earth-based agencies
such as the US Air Force, if the job could be carried out here
Finding the odd 30m village buster as it passes inside the
orbit of our Moon is no proof that Earth-based tracking stations
can systematically map 90% of the lot over a reasonable period,
that is decades rather than centuries. In fact, I don't believe
it would be cost-justified to protract the exercise over that
Even though follow-up observations of hundreds of thousands
of potentially hazardous objects will remain an obligation
forever, the cost of maintaining a PHO inventory is much less
than that of setting it up initially.
As Ed Grondine has put it so well, let's first spend those
few peanuts on a comprehensive PHO detection program, then
afterwards feel free to spend lots of coconuts on manned
trips to Phobos, Deimos, and even Mars.
NASA is key to the quick detection of all >50m PHOs, because
they can easily incorporate the much-needed telescopes and
transponders into current mission plans. It would be silly
to ask the Air Force to meddle their way into that business.
I suspect that it is the mitigation game that causes NASA to
balk somewhat? Surely, if they were freed of the concern for
testing how to deflect all sorts of objects - not knowing
which year which object out there is due to hit - then they
just might understand, accept, and accomplish that most noble
of their obligations - to give us all a running all-clear.
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