Russia Has Plans to Nuke Asteroids

We’ve seen the movies. I’m thinking about the one with Bruce Willis in, the asteroid hurtling towards earth and a timer that just won’t stop ticking. I am course referring to Armageddon, a film in which an asteroid could end all life on earth. We’ve heard the chances of asteroids hitting the Earth, NASA even has a task force to deal with the issue. What you probably didn’t know is Russia has a plan for when the asteroids come knocking; nuke them!

A joint country initiative was set up under the European Commission, titled NEOShield. Each country under the scheme was responsible for researching different ways and methods of preventing asteroids and other NEO’s (Near-Earth Objects) from impacting the planet. Russia’s solution has a simple elegance to it, to nuke it. While it may not be able to destroy an asteroid, the scientists believe that a nuclear blast near to the asteroid would burn up its mass, producing a jet thrust effect that would be used to change the asteroid’s path, avoiding the earth.

The announcement of the research details comes alongside the newly stated goals for the Russian Space program, which wants to develop a “space barrier”. A series of satellites that would detect any object that could present a threat to the planet.

With a follow-up program launched (NEOShield-2), even the slightest threat of an object from outer space crashing into the planet is being taken seriously. If it contains just rock or an Alien being, it looks like the world wants to not only know about it, but also how to stop it.

NASA Forms Task Force to Defend the Planet from Asteroids

NASA is preparing to be able to prevent one of the few existential threats to our planet and humanity: giant asteroids. To this end, they have formerly re-designated the ongoing program that currently works to track and detect hazardous near-Earth objects as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). Their responsibilities will be to oversee all NASA-funded projects to document asteroids and comets that pass close to Earth’s orbit and play a key role in coordinating any inter-agency or international efforts to respond to threats.

The long-term objectives of the PDCO are to attempt to discover and detail as many near-Earth objects (NEOs) as possible, as well as develop countermeasures to a potential asteroid impact. Currently, they are pursuing two main lines of investigation into impact prevention; the first is NASA’s Asteroid Redirection Mission, which redirects asteroids using the gravity created by a high mass object to a lunar orbit; the second is the NASA-ESA joint Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) which will assess the effects of high-speed impacts on asteroids.

Should an unavoidable impact occur, the PDCO would be able to provide detailed information about the impact long in advance to emergency agencies. This information could include impact timings, locations, and potential global effects, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prepare and respond to the ensuing disaster. So far NASA has been able to discover and classify over 90 percent of NEOs larger than 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) and over 13500 discovered to date. Now NASA is focused on meeting the goal of documenting 90% of NEOs 450ft (140m) or larger by 2020, which the formation of the PDCO should help them meet.

While there are no reported threats to our planet as of yet, the amount of NEOs is sizable and the formation of task forces such as the PDCO are certainly better safe than sorry. Increases to NASA’s budget going into 2016, research into NEOs and disaster prevention should go from strength to strength and with plans for a manned mission to an asteroid in the works, humanity should be in a much better place to defend from asteroid disasters potentially in our future.

Mine An Asteroid and Its Yours – You Just Have to Get There First

We have known for a long while that the resources we have on Earth and under it, are limited. With an expanding population and growing lifespan, it’s becoming more and more necessary to find alternative sources of resources. With a billionaire seeking to mine the moon, we could soon be seeing people launching into space, not for exploration, but to go mining. Its okay, if you can mine it, you can own it according to legislation passed by the US congress.

The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act was signed into effect on Tuesday offering a range of pro-business measures for US Citizens that include being able to own resources in outer space. The act also looks to make it easier for commercial groups to get permission to launch craft into space, meaning that going and mining the moon and passing asteroids could become one step closer very soon.

With protection for companies offering space tourism and extending the International Space Stations lifetime to 2024, the act will have long standing effects on anyone and every company that looks to expand their borders to outer space.

There is one problem with any legislation that affects outer space, and if anime and science fiction has told me anything, it’s that no one on Earth can truly own something in space. What if someone in the UK lands on an asteroid and mines it, are they protected under US law? What about the countries that don’t agree to the law and legislations that people believe their actions to be protected by? Not only could you soon see buildings made from asteroids, but the courts could see large legal battles between entire countries for the rights to space rocks.

Scientists Will Move an Asteroid off Course as Part of a Test

It’s happened before and it will definitely happen again sometime in the planet’s future. I’m talking about an asteroid impact, of course, the like of which could obliterate the majority of life on earth, including humans. The good news is that scientists are actively working on ways to prevent such a catastrophic impact, and come 2020, they’ll actually try to nudge an asteroid off its path as part of a testing session. The experiment was dubbed Aida, Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment, and it will focus on an egg-shaped asteroid named Didymoon, which measures 160 metres in width and currently orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos.

The scientists will launch two spacecraft, one of which will hit the asteroid directly while the other will monitor the impact’s effect. The lead investigator for the European Space Agency, Dr, Patrick Michel, has stated the following:

“To protect Earth from potentially hazardous impacts, we need to understand asteroids much better – what they are made of, their structure, origins and how they respond to collisions. Aida will be the first mission to study an asteroid binary system, as well as the first to test whether we can deflect an asteroid through an impact with a spacecraft. The European part of the mission[…] will study the structure of Didymoon and the orbit and rotation of the binary system, providing clues to its origin and evolution.”

Back in 2003, Didymos passed by our planet at a distance of 7.18 million kilometres. Let’s just hope that we’ll be ready to act when the time comes.

Thank you Irishmirror for providing us with this information.

Super Rich Asteroid Expected To Pass By Earth

A mega rich asteroid is expected to pass Earth this Sunday (July 19th) which is both extremely large and is also the richest known asteroid is space. The gigantic rock is named UW-158 and has an approximate core weight of 90 million tonnes. To put this into perspective, Guinness World Records estimates that the heaviest structure on earth is the Parliament building in Bucharest which contains 700,000 tonnes of Steel and Bronze. Now here’s the rich part, the asteroid contains around $5 trillion dollars worth of platinum, which is enough to save Greece from defaulting again.

This asteroid is expected to travel to within 1.5 million miles of Earth; this does not pose any danger to us, OR DOES IT!!!! No it really doesn’t, as the Asteroid will be around 6 times the distance of the current length from Earth to the Moon. The coined Platinum asteroid will pass London at approximately 11pm on Sunday (19 July) and will hopefully be captured by an observatory in the Canary Islands.

I may have watched too much science fiction, but it makes you wonder if a genius in the future will devise a way to capture these resources. As the elements are becoming more and more limited, eventually we as beings will have to find new avenues with which to exploit.

Thank you fossbytes and Nasa for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Metro

Astronauts Might Be Able to Play with Lasers from the International Space Station Soon

According to ScienceDirect, a few researchers have come up with a plan to turn the International Space Station into a defence system against asteroids or other ‘orbiting debris’.

How cool is that? Get a paid vacation in space… float around the room… and have some lasers to play around with! Of course, it is not that simple. However, the general idea sounds great. Look at what the researchers have highlighted in their paper:

  • A debris remediation system with a wide angle telescope and a laser transmitter.
  • A step-by-step approach using the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Proof of principle demonstration of the detection with an ISS based prototype.
  • Technical demonstrator with an EUSO telescope and a space CAN laser.
  • A free-flyer mission dedicated to debris remediation with the altitude ~800 km.

So what we know so far is that they are looking to build an ‘orbital debris remediation system’ as they call it, which is made out of a super-wide field-of-view telescope named ‘EUSO’ and a novel high-efficiency fibre-based laser system called ‘CAN’.

The telescope features a 2.5 meter optics and a FOV of ±30 degrees. Together with the CAN laser, the project hopes to blow up stuff at a range of 100 km. Not bad at all! It shows a lot of potential, but let’s not get too excited.

Though the idea is filed, there is still the building part that usually kills and keeps ideas on paper. I mean, a project such as this requires a LOT of money and manpower.

Until more information on who is going to build it and how (or if we’ll ever see it in action at all) surfaces, what do you think? Are you feeling a bit more relieved that you won’t get hit by an asteroid in the future?

Image courtesy of Deagle

NASA Building Largest Rocket of All Time, Will Launch in 2018

NASA are cooking up something big, very big! The simple-named Space Launch System, a 384 feet tall rocket, the biggest ever created. To put this into perspective the Saturn V was just 363 feet and that one took us to the moon. The new rocket will also offer up 20% more thrust using liquid hydrogen and oxygen as fuel.

SLS development is progressing nicely and NASA announced last week that the rocket would make an unmanned test launch in 2018, with a future target of taking humans into orbit around an asteroid, then to mars by the 2030’s, beyond that NASA have aims for Saturn and Jupiter.

Since the retirement of the shuttles NASA has been reliant on booking flights with other nations, should they be able to get this rocket complete on time it will mark a massive milestone for NASA, making them industry leaders for the next generation of space exploration. Now all I need to do is see if I can book a spectator seat for the day the light the engines on this beast!

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/tqt4hmsi4b0[/youtube]

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TheVerge.

Massive Asteroid To Pass Earth Next Week And You Can Watch It Via Webcam

Chelyabinsk – 2013

A massive asteroid (2000 EM26) will be passing earth on the 17th of February, and while it’s still 0.018 AU away from the earth it is classed as a ‘potentially hazardous’ object. No need to be worried though, 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, so 0.018 may sound close, but it’s really more than 2.6 million kilometres, meaning this asteroid is ‘close’ in astronomical terms, but flipping miles away in human terms.

It may not be in with a chance of hitting us, but it is close enough to get a good look at it and thanks to some cameras on Slooh.com (or its iPad app) you can view it online. Their cameras are trained on the right part of the skies above the Canary Islands so that you can login and take a peak.

“We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids—sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth. Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!” Said Slooh’s technical and research director, Paul Cox while speaking with Phys.org

Slooh are known to routinely track dangerous asteroids that have the potential to damage Earth and I’m pretty grateful this latest one is going to sail past us, given that it’s roughly the size of three football pitches. It was only a year ago that the Chelyabinsk incident saw a 30 metres in diameter asteroid explode in the sky, injuring more than 1000 people in the process.

Check out the live stream YouTube video below, there is a handy countdown timer on it to let you prepare for the viewing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCFWUemLzM0&feature=share[/youtube]

Thank you Huffington for providing us with this information.

Space Drilling Could Become Reality In Less Than 5 Years, First Stop… The Moon?

If I am to know my geography right, we have plenty of water as it is on our planet. However, a Sudbury-based company in Ontario, Canada, has developed a space drill which could be operational within the next 5 years. Their first ‘target’ seems to be the Moon, where the drill would demonstrate its effectiveness by gathering water on another planet (well, satellite in this case). It would also signal the start of the space mining industry.

Deltion Innovations Ltd. has announced it’s been awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency to advance the design of its “DESTIN” drill and then test it in a moon-like environment on Earth. Deltion spokesman Dale Boucher says the tests are aimed at advancing technology so the space drill would be ready for a lunar prospector mission in 2018. The mission’s objective is to prospect for water ice near the South Pole of the moon, extract samples and then analyze them.

Boucher says the mission would kick-start space mining as an economic activity, and it would be the first of many missions looking for usable resources, either on an asteroid or the moon. The Canadian drill would be mounted on Artemis Jr., a lunar mining rover being developed by Ottawa-based Neptec Design. Neptec made the laser-camera system that was used to inspect the exterior of the now retired United States space shuttles.

Thank you Global Post for providing us with this information

Asteroid Could Collide With Earth, But Not Until 2880 Say Scientists

There’s nothing like a good apocalyptic news story to get you intrigued, but thankfully we are not the bringers of doom today. Cleveland Leader reports that Scientists have discovered an asteroid on a potential collision path with the earth. The asteroid in question is the “1950 DA” which was spotted once on February 23rd 1950 and again on December 31st 2000. The asteroid apparently has a 0.3% chance of colliding with the earth on March 16th 2880 during a 20 minute window. Of course 0.3% is still a ridiculously low number but the scientists point out this makes it about 50% more likely to hit earth than the chance of impact from other asteroids known to have a potential collision course.

The cause for concern is however very minimal. Scientists claim dusting the surface of the asteroid with chalk, charcoal or white glass beads would be enough to allow sunlight reflectivity to divert its path away from the earth. While a potential collision with an asteroid is never good news, having 866.5 years notice is always useful!

Image courtesy of hub.jhu.edu