Filmmakers and novelists love asteroids, especially if they’re heading for Earth.
Tagged with “asteroids” (7)
Is the Earth too perfect? The Moon too grey? Mars too dusty? Then how about setting up a human colony in the depths of space?
Richard Hollingham travels to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee to meet scientists, engineers, doctors and anthropologists planning human colonies in space and spaceships that will take humanity to the stars.
These are not dreamers - although they all have an ambitious dream - but well qualified experts. Several work at Nasa, others have day jobs at universities and research institutes.
Richard hears of proposals to build giant space stations and worldships - vessels packed with the best of humanity. These caravans in space might be lifeboats to escape an approaching asteroid or perhaps the first step to colonising the galaxy.
Ed Lu: Anthropocene Astronomy: Thwarting Dangerous Asteroids Begins with Finding Them - The Long Now
This talk was given at Marines’ Memorial Theater in San Francisco, California on Tuesday June 18, 02013.
Are humans smarter than dinosaurs? We haven’t proved it yet.
In the long now, the greatest threat to life on Earth, or (more frequently) to civilization, or (still more frequently) to cities, is asteroid impact. The technology exists to eliminate the threat permanently. It is relatively easy and relatively cheap to do. However to date, government organizations have not made this a priority. That leaves nonprofits and private funding. Considerable efficiency may be gained by going that route.
Ed Lu is CEO and Chairman of the B612 Foundation, which, in partnership with Ball Aerospace is building an asteroid-detection system called Sentinel, aiming for launch in 2018. A three time NASA astronaut, Lu is also the co-inventor of the “gravity tractor” — one of the several techniques that can be used to nudge threatening asteroids out their collision paths with Earth.
Asteroid threat is an attention-span problem blended with a delayed-gratification problem—-exactly the kind of thing that Long Now was set up to help with. Taking the extreme danger of asteroids seriously requires thinking at century and millennium scale. Dealing with the threat requires programs that span decades, because asteroids can only be deflected if they are found and dealt with many years before their potential impact. The reality is that the predictability of orbital mechanics makes cosmic planetary defense completely workable. Sometimes real science is more amazing than science fiction.
On February 15th of this year, civilization got a wake-up call. A 45 meter asteroid, large enough to completely obliterate a major city, missed Earth by only 17,000 miles, and hours later a smaller rock, 17 meters in diameter, exploded in the air over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1500 people. Interest in B612’s asteroid detection mission spiked accordingly.
In the old days, we sang about fear and fortune way down in the mines. This week, the mining talk was way up in space. Mining asteroids. A bunch of rich guys with big track records and big dreams have formed a new company – Planetary Resources – to chase down asteroids and suck out their riches. Platinum. Iridium. Water in space.
If it sounds like the movie Avatar, well, director James Cameron is in the venture. So are Google guys. And Microsoft money. Is this for real?
This hour, On Point: Planetary Resources founder Eric Anderson and more. We’re thinking about mining asteroids.
The idea of exploiting the natural resources on asteroids has been around for more than a century. But a new company called Planetary Resources has the financial backing of some big names in high tech, and hopes to launch specially-designed prospecting spacecraft within two years.
Every couple of years, the earth is hit by a body with energy near that of the Hiroshima bomb. Deposited high in the atmosphere these events causes little or no damage. On longer timescales, impacts occur with the potential to destroy regions, or whole civilizations. Learn about the impact threat, followed by a systematic development of the requirements to divert such an object.
There is simple evidence that, even in recent times, the Earth has suffered major impacts from asteroids and comets. What dangers do they hold for our civilisation?
Major efforts now being made to detect those that might harm us and strategies are being developed to prevent their impacts. But we do have a problem with comets…