[FPSPACE] Caves on Mars
dstdba at post4.tele.dk
Mon Mar 26 00:12:02 EST 2007
From: DSFPortree at aol.com [mailto:DSFPortree at aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2007 11:40 PM
> I wonder - could these space-based asteroid detection
> observatories be justified in terms of other astronomy
> they might do? Like SOHO and sun-grazing comets? Or would
> they be so specialized that they'd be unable to do much else?
Good question. Like asking 50 years ago, if hydrogen bombs
could be justified in terms of other tasks than keeping
Russki commies in check.
> The LONEOS search program at Lowell Observatory uses a
> dedicated 21-inch telescope, though there doesn't seem
> to be any reason that it couldn't do other things.
> It has captured a number of comets and many Main Belt
> asteroids in addition to the NEOs it seeks. I suppose
> that the data might include things like eclipsing
> binaries and variable stars, though I don't think anyone
> has used them that way.
Generally speaking unmanned observatories need not be
starved of funds, since we probably agree that the drain
on the budget owes to us dispatching alive-and-kicking
astronauts into outer space - and bringing them back home
in the same condition.
I have extracted three paragraphs from the NASA report
on NEO Survey and Deflection. Shame on those congressmen
who don't adhere to the message.
"Observatories located in a Venus-like orbit are the most
efficient at finding NEOs inside Earth's orbit, a population
which has the most uncertainty yet still poses a hazard due
to gravitational orbit perturbations."
"Table 11 shows that the options that exceed the goals of the
Survey program also provide other benefits. The middle column
of the table shows that systems that operate in Venus-like
orbits are more efficient at finding Aten and Interior Earth
Objects, a potentially underrepresented population of PHOs."
"The second objective of characterization is to "inform
mitigation." Depending on the mitigation strategy selected,
this objective may require information beyond the size and
orbit of PHOs. This information may include the structure,
porosity, rotation rate, material composition, and surface
features of the object."
The last paragraph points to the need for transponders to
be placed on a few asteroids, those that we cannot determine
by observation alone whether will hit Earth. Apart from
Apophis, which the NEO community is of course fully aware
of, 1950 DA falls into that group. Let's get started then,
because the extended Spaceguard program is likely to add
a few more to the NEO group begging for transponder missions.
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