Okay so, my comments here today are not to scare anyone, rather to consider asteroids from a risk management perspective. You see, not long ago, a concerned citizen and now a distant acquaintance contacted our Think Tank which operates online about the almost unthinkable thought of a very large asteroid slamming into Earth and wiping out the human race. Yes, a morbid thought indeed, and he promises me he is genuinely serious about this issue and hasn’t smoked anything in years.
Now then, after considering the accumulated knowledge on this topic I’ve been fortunate enough to run across, along with all the doomsday Hollywood Movies, a few books on the topic, some Discovery Channel shows, several research papers, and a couple of astronomy classes along the way – I decided to revisit the topic. Over the course of a little less than a week now, I’ve read no fewer than 50 research papers on the topic from all the best known astronomers dedicated to this area of study.
My acquaintance tells me he comes from a business risk management point of view having run many companies, and he also comes from a strategic thinking standpoint having studied war-gaming all his life, and asks me to consider the ramifications of this issue from that venue, and hold my critique until I’ve carefully considered it – indeed, I can safely say I have. Therefore, here is my assessment and the official position of our think tank;
It appears to me that it may be wise to back off any immediate mandated effort to go and kill a large comet or Asteroid which maybe heading for Earth right now. Likewise the concept of funding $50 Billion each and every year to put a space ship, attack crew, with the necessary number of nuclear weapons, as my acquaintance suggests is simply not currently feasible. In the future it might be, but we live in the present period, not the future. In 2-3 decades we may have better materials, better space vehicles, and better ability to manipulate gravity – currently we do not.
There are also several reasons for this risk assessment. First, an extremely large asteroid, one which could cause all life to go extinct on this planet, would be a massive space rock – we simply do not have the fire-power currently to shoot it down, divert it, or bump it out of the way. One estimate would be that it might take 2000 nuclear bombs to do this, which as my acquaintance claims would take some 4,000 large Delta Rockets to get up into space.
Secondly, there are not that many very large sized asteroids that we know about which are for sure on a collision course for Earth. There are many potential smaller ones to practice on yes, and maybe that’s a present day option instead.
Third, we do not have an accurate census of the threat, more studies are needed, and we need to know more information, and that information must be more accurate, currently the margin for error on our data of size of the objects is estimated at 100%, meaning if an ECA (Earth-Crossing Asteroid) is 50 meters in diameter, it could very well be 100 meters, that quite frankly isn’t good enough data for risk assessment. More work is needed, and it should be funded to get accurate data.
Fourth, we have no clue as to the consistency, make-up of any of these space rocks which have been found and discovered and are already part of the NEO (Near Earth Object) or NEA (Near Earth Asteroid), we are only guessing based on reflectivity, spectrometry, radiometry, and other readings – and this still only tells us of the surface of such objects. We do have some idea that some of these asteroids and comets have a good deal of macro and micro-porosity, which is in our favor should one come to Earth at just the right angle to enter the atmosphere and not skip back out into space.
Fifth, due to the fact that likelihood of such an event within the next 100-years is a low percentage, we should wait until we have better technology to do something about it, while we fund practice missions to asteroids, and various strategies to deflect, destroy, or divert (D3) them. What we learn will confirm what we are dealing with. Sun Tzu – know your enemy well, and know yourself well. We know we currently do not have the political will, or technology, and we know very little about these space rocks, although that is changing.
Sixth, a semi-large asteroid that we might be able to shoot down or D3 using all of our current nuclear fire-power is hit or miss, and we have no idea if we’d be able to see it in time, or if it would for sure hit us, as our data is inaccurate, and we know that. So whereas, it might kill 100 million or even 500 million people at or after impact, the human race would still go on.
So, in closing – We don’t have the capability of taking out the BIG ONE right now, a smaller one wouldn’t completely take us out – and we have time on our hands, thankfully. Thus, we need to use that time expediently and carefully. We need to fund a complete and accurate census of all asteroids and comets catalogued by;
3. Orbit or Period,
4. Stream or Cluster (if any),
5. Estimated Make Up and Density,
Simultaneous, we need to work on better materials for space craft, better equipment, more fire power, and delivery systems. Such as;
1. Sample collection by all means,
2. Carbon nano-tube, graphene composite construction,
3. Advanced radar, spectrometry, telescope, radiometry – all types of systems,
4. Advanced space propulsion systems (all types need funding, prototypes, and testing),
5. Defensive energy systems, including: Laser, Nuclear, Vibrational, Gravity manipulation technologies,
Along the way, as this strategy progresses, it makes sense to expedite the research, prototypes, and take risks as necessary to develop a solid strategy and have the capability to D3 any medium to large size space rock threat. We must maintain the will to deal with this ever present threat, and not simply write it off as something we can’t do anything about, or that we hope will never happen.
Why? Because the Dinosaurs are no longer with us – they didn’t have a planetary defense system. Humans are smart enough to solve this problem and deal with this inevitable future challenge because it’s not if, but when, and right now, we don’t have enough information for a solid risk assessment – thus, it’s wise to be prudent in this matter. This is the official position of the Online Think Tank in the matter of saving the human race from extinction from a Comet or Asteroid strike.