Tue, Feb 20, 2007
Group To Submit Formal Plan On Handling Crisis By 2009
Someone call Bruce Willis... and we hear Ben Affleck likely has
some free time. As it turns out, Earth as we know it may be doomed
by a large asteroid as soon as 2036.
Fortunately, a group of scientists, astronauts, and engineers
have called upon the United Nations to rally an "Armageddon"-style
space mission to deal with the problem.
CNN reports the group is concerned not only with an asteroid
named Apophis -- which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of slamming into
Earth on April 13, 2036 -- but also with the large number of other
threatening space rocks expected to be revealed as NASA upgrades
its tracking of near-Earth asteroids.
"It's not just Apophis we're looking at. Every country is at
risk. We need a set of general principles to deal with this issue,"
said Apollo 9 astronaut Randy Schweickart to the American
Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San
Schweickart is part of The Association of Space Explorers, a
group of former astronauts and cosmonauts who intend to host a
series of workshops this year to establish a plan to deal with the
problem. He plans to present an update before the end of the month
to the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, with the
intent of making a formal proposal in 2009.
Association member Ed Lu, a former astronaut who spent time on
the International Space Station, said the approach favored by
scientists would call for a spacecraft be dispatched to use gravity
to alter an asteroid's course away from Earth.
Such a "gravity tractor" would hold
position near the asteroid, and gradually deflect its course by
"pulling" on the body.
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