Thursday, November 16, 2006

Asteroids from the Deep Dark.

Duncan Steel, Vice President of Spaceguard has acknowledged that based on recent evidence the chances of an asteroid doing catastrophic damage in the next century are 1 in 5000 but theres no need to panic. Do earthlings live in a happy state of asteroid oblivion? Find out with Mr Steel.
BBC Asteroid Experts This website will get you amped! Its full of games and quizzes also. Check it out!


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH
(Read my Post on the Vega Star System)

Seemingly, Earth has no international plan yet and governments are sadly lacking in this area. Asteroids are rocks and metal and comets are dirty snowballs which evaporate once they enter the earths atmosphere. Diverting an asteroid on a possible collision course would involve nuclear weapons to nudge it away from the planet gently. A global asteroid space search programme is required like yesterday.. Its possible to see asteroids from the day side of earth using telescopes in space

Funding doesn't exist to carry out ground based, telescope research, which is cheaper than space based telescopes. Spaced based are better because your can search with high technology, 24/7.

NASA's space "Spitzer Telescope" has an infrared multi-band imaging photometer, excellent for locating even the faintest sources of heat at long distances. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL), Pasadena, California manages Spitzer for NASA's - Science Directorate in Washington. This kind of telescope is ideal for discovering and identifying celestial bodies. The Hubble Space Telescope is another which has found 600 stars adrift in space between the Virgo Cluster galaxies. The vast majority of asteroid discoveries are made using telescopes which belong to the US Air Force.



Livescience.com's author Tariq Malik mentions a high ranking Federal Space Agency Official as having told reporters that Russia would step up to save the planet, but that the effort had to be an international endeavor. Theres an interesting link within Tariq Malik's article that leads to Space.com

The International Community involving Prague Astronomers, The International Astronomical Union, Nasa'a Space Guard, New IAU Task Force, U.S. Congress, and the National institute of Astrophysics are striving towards monitoring asteroids more closely and ultimately creating an early warning system. Warned in advance, the Earth can send up a rocket and deflect any intruder. Thats the theory. The demand for astronomers now is going to be greater than ever!



The largest Earth approaching asteroid is the EROS. It's 20 miles across. Nasa landed a spacecraft on it. It cannot hit Earth. Asteroids crossing the path of the Earths orbit do occur, the largest of which was 5 miles across. Asteroids orbit the sun, sometimes falling out of orbit and coming close to one of the planets. It takes time to plot the trajectory of an asteroid.

The largest group of asteroids is located between Mars and Jupiter numbering in their thousands. Astronomers call it the Asteroid Belt. Another group called the Apollos, orbits between Earth and Mars. One asteroid, Ida, has a satellite. The best place to look for asteroids is directly overhead at night, opposite the sun. We need more larger telescopes to scan the night skies, especially if we are to spot the smaller asteroids.

Its a small world in a big universe with the moon and the sun shielding earth. We've been lucky so far.... The flagship of the Federation won't be coming to our rescue when the big one hits our harmless little world. Instead, earthlings will be eating cookies and watching Star Trek on tv.

Live Long and Prosper Trekkers!

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