[FPSPACE] NASA pressed to avert catastrophic Deep Impact
dstdba at post4.tele.dk
Sat Nov 10 00:45:01 EST 2007
From: LARRY KLAES [mailto:ljk4 at msn.com]
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2007 3:51 PM
> NASA pressed to avert catastrophic Deep Impact
> PhysOrg.com Nov. 8, 2007
> NASA penny-pinching risks exposing
> humankind to a planetary catastrophe
> if a big enough asteroid evades
> detection and slams into Earth, US
> lawmakers warned...
To quote from the original article
"... the US space agency said the chances of a new "Near-Earth
Object" (NEO) like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs were
too remote to divert scarce resources."
Which goes to show that the above-mentioned agency still
exhibits a worrying failure to grasp the basics of the
While an 'extinction class' impact is indeed remote, its
consequences are awful. Maybe the agency is comforted by
some shrewd considerations that government officials in
Washington D.C. will have other priorities than punish
them, should such an impact occur anyway.
However, the essential characteristic of the NEO threat is
that cumulative damage is almost evenly distibuted across
the entire impactor diameter range, that is from 50m to 20km.
That's a span of a factor 400 to the power of 3, that is
So, how urgent is it to protect the US population against
an impact 64 million times less powerful than the impact
that wipes mankind off the face of the planet? But which
is also 64 million times more likely to happen.
Naturally said agency can assume that a smallish impact
is statistically unlikely to hit the limited land mass
occupied by their taxpayers. Rather it's presumably going
to impact some other lot of humans on an entirely
different continent. That attitude on the other hand gives
other countries very good reasons to develop rocketry and
weaponry to defend themselves. Whatever hardware can be
used against an NEO, however, may also be used against
a hostile NATO adversary.
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