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Earth Space Science

Nukes Not the Best Way To Stop Asteroids, Says Apollo Astronaut 367

Posted by timothy
from the thin-coating-of-flubber dept.
MajorTom writes "Right now, we are not tracking many of the asteroids that could destroy earth. But within the next decade, new telescopes will make that possible, and leave us with the tough decision of what to do about objects with an alarming chance of hitting our planet. Last year, NASA said that the best option is to nuke them. This week, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, explained that there are far better options, and he has started an organization to prove that they can work."
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Nukes Not the Best Way To Stop Asteroids, Says Apollo Astronaut

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  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:43PM (#24362213) Homepage
    Then what does he propose that we nuke? Each other? The whales? Martians?
    • by X0563511 (793323) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:49PM (#24362263) Homepage Journal

      The darkness! I want to attack the darkness! ...

      Fine, fine. . You cast nuclear fission at the darkness.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Bruce Willis please :-)
    • Trying to use nukes to deflect the asteroid seems like the more difficult solution to me. The asteroid will be far away and moving fast. Earth is close and (relative to us) not moving at all!

      Clearly the more practical way to avoid a collision is to use the nukes to deflect Earth out of the path of the asteroid.

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:43PM (#24362681)

      Then what does he propose that we nuke? Each other? The whales? Martians?

      Nuke the gay baby whales for Jesus.

    • by Atari400 (1174925) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:01PM (#24363687)
      Let's Nukem Forever, Duke.
  • by XanC (644172) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:44PM (#24362217)

    If Edgar Mitchell's involved, then we know for sure that nukes are the best option!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:45PM (#24362221)

    It's the only way to make sure.

  • TFS (Score:5, Informative)

    by mpeg4codec (581587) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:45PM (#24362223) Homepage

    To save you all the horror and pain of reading TFA (since TFS doesn't state), Schweickart is suggesting we either push or pull them away with unmanned spacecraft.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TrashGod (752833)
      Why not a spacecraft powered by nukes, as in Footfall [wikipedia.org] by Jerry Pournelle [wikipedia.org]?
      • Re:TFS (Score:4, Informative)

        by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:51PM (#24362765) Homepage
        While you're at it, don't forget Jerry's [jerrypournelle.com] coauthor, Larry Niven! [wikipedia.org]
      • Re:TFS (Score:5, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:07PM (#24362899) Homepage Journal

        I hope you realize that Pournelle and Niven didn't just make that up? Project Orion [wikipedia.org] was a very real attempt to develop nuclear pulse propulsion. It is still a viable option for space travel, as long we're not talking about a ground-launch using nuclear pulses. To get the sucker into orbit, we might have to resort to something a bit more mundane. Like a dozen SRBs or somesuch.

        • by dsmall (933970) on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:06AM (#24364677)

          Weapons effects are extremely interesting and useful. The first effect to know about is that stuff survives amazingly close to a nuclear explosion. The second effect is that you can "tune" a fission bomb to direct its energy output largely in one direction. (Don't jump on me, this is in the open literature now.) Which gives a different method of dealing with asteroids; a series of powerful, but not shattering, plasma "slaps" to change its orbit.

          Send a spacecraft armed with lots of quite small fission weapons that are set up to direct their weapons effects mostly in one direction and with a very basic, robust guidance system. Each one needs to get tossed out, line up with the asteroid, trigger, and "slap" it with high-speed plasma. Enough "slaps" change its orbital characteristics. You don't try to shatter it.

          Each fission weapon looks like this: Wrap up a small (5 kt?) fission core with something like polyethylene or anything that absorbs prompt soft X-rays. Anything that has mass. The onboard computer works with guidance (my guess would be aims for a laser point on the asteroid, but who knows), the guidance just lines it up properly with the asteroid, and triggers the fission.

          Position it so that when it goes off, the plasma of the polyethylene (and the former physics package, etc), moving around 2.5 million miles per hour, strikes the asteroid. You don't try to break the asteroid up -- far from it. You go for a series of "slaps" with very hot material. As the physics formula says, Mass times Velocity Squared -- and here you have all kinds of velocity.

          As Lew Allen proved, with his famous tests with steel spheres just a few feet from ground-zero of a nuclear test survive just fine, and they are accelerated quite briskly. This was one basis of Project Orion later on.

          It would be quite interesting to model this against some asteroid sizes and get an idea of what would be required to change the trajectory. We certainly have enough plutonium cores laying around.

                Just an interesting thought.

                Thanks,

                  Dave Small

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:46PM (#24362231)

    Move it into orbit and mine it.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:37PM (#24362649)
      With mines [wikipedia.org] or with mines [wikipedia.org]?
    • by greenguy (162630)

      You've missed the whole point. The question here is not what to do with it, but how do we do anything with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SirLurksAlot (1169039)

      Assuming this is even possible what are the chances of the asteroid's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the earth anyway? How long would it stay in orbit before this occurred?

      Going back to whether or not this is possible it seems like it would take monumental effort to make it happen with the possibility of little to no gain (aside from the obvious "we're not going to die from this particular asteroid"). Lets see, we would need to:

      1. Precisely plan a time to intercept.
      2. Actually intercept it with a mann
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GigaplexNZ (1233886)

        Assuming this is even possible what are the chances of the asteroid's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the earth anyway?

        Probably quite similar to the chances of the Moon's orbit decaying and having it plummet to the Earth, if we set it up right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rossifer (581396)

        Actually, there's no need to put it into a geosynchronous orbit. There are lots of circumsolar orbits that are more favorable (and safer) than a circumterran orbit.

        Bringing large, potentially unstable masses close to the earth is a mistake. You wouldn't want the asteroid to fragment during a maneuver and accidentally impact something important. Like the Mediterranean Sea, for instance.

        Do your mining out near the earth-sun L4 or L5 point and bring the packaged extraction products into earth orbit via sola

    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:07PM (#24363721) Homepage Journal

      Making it miss is a matter of nudging its orbit just enough that it doesn't intersect Earth any more. Capturing it requires slowing it down all the way to Earth-orbit speed. In space, just because something goes nearby doesn't mean it's easy to catch.

  • by pagewalker (1286802) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:48PM (#24362255)

    He's saying pushing or pulling an asteroid is better than hitting it with a nuclear weapon, but the interesting thing is that he's claiming NASA issued its pro-nuclear statement last year in response to political pressure to put nuclear weapons in space.

    ---
    Thousands are enslaved every day. http://www.riverofinnocents.com/ [riverofinnocents.com]

    • National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is an administration, run by administrators for the benefit of administrators. The boss is appointed by the president.

      So why does anyone get surprised when NASA changes its tune in accordance with political whim, be that on the use of nukes or on global warming?

  • Armageddon? (Score:5, Funny)

    by lorg (578246) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:48PM (#24362257)

    Please let one of the options be to send Ben Affleck into space. He has experience.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2008 @07:49PM (#24362279)

    Find those advanced aliens that the other Apollo astronaut says are in our midst, and arrange for technology transfer briefings on asteroid redirection.

  • Just turning the asteroid into pieces wont work, the pieces will still come in the same direction.

    But what about using nukes as some sort of "propulsion" system (as in the Project Orion [wikipedia.org]), so they can change the direction of the asteroid? Wont be something for the last minute, but, could work?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just turning the asteroid into pieces wont work, the pieces will still come in the same direction.

      But the pieces will have more surface area and therefore will burn up in the atmosphere more efficiently.

      But what about using nukes as some sort of "propulsion" system (as in the Project Orion [wikipedia.org]), so they can change the direction of the asteroid? Wont be something for the last minute, but, could work?

      That could work. Or we could change the direction of the Earth :P

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        That could work. Or we could change the direction of the Earth :P

        Funny answer #1: Hey, I don't much like the direction we're going in now; it's worth a shot.

        Funny answer #2: Simple. Just change the gravitational constant of the universe.

  • Why couldn't we just use nukes to redirect them? Detonate one of them near the asteroid, push it off course, and keep doing this until a desired trajectory is met that will not cause it to collide with Earth or the Moon. Its kind of like pushing a basketball mid-flight, you wouldn't be stopping the full force of the ball as much as just redirecting the current energy with some other force. It would require that we have early knowledge but still could work.

    And of course anything that breaks off could be n
    • 1up (Score:5, Funny)

      by the_fat_kid (1094399) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:16PM (#24362449)

      so, let me see if I got this right:

      you would have a small triangular ship. Maybe two or three extras "just in case".
      we could control it remotely. A rotational control and a forward thruster should suffice.
      Then we could "fire" small nukes at the object. That would change their trajectory and break them into smaller pieces.

      I think it sounds like a brilliant idea, but where would we be able to find someone who could operate such a machine?

      • Re:1up (Score:5, Funny)

        by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:08PM (#24362905) Homepage

        You'd probably want to design the triangle to be able to move out of the way of the asteroid via some 'hyper space' mechanism as well, in case you were too close to thrust out of the way manually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > I think it sounds like a brilliant idea, but where would we be able to find someone who
        > could operate such a machine?

        It's Saturday night, I have no date, a 2 liter bottle of Shasta, and my all Rush mix tape. Let's rock.

    • by MSZ (26307) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:18PM (#24362471)

      Detonate one of them near the asteroid, push it off course

      You can rain nukes on that asteroid till it glows, but that won't make much difference. Trick is, in the vacuum of space, nuclear explosion is weak. There is no air to create blast wave and thermal flash, so all you get is some hard radiation and hand-grenade level of blast from vaporized bomb casing. And that's it.

      Project Orion would get around this problem by using thousands of little charges, detonated close to the reflector - and it would still take years to accelerate.

      A volley of the kind of nuclear warheads we have now would not effectively change course of any asteroid big enough to be a threat.

      And blasting it to pieces would make a little difference, only in distribution of the damage - we'd get stoned with a swarm of fragments instead of one big piece, yet the same mass and total energy.

      • by zakezuke (229119)

        A volley of the kind of nuclear warheads we have now would not effectively change course of any asteroid big enough to be a threat.

        I wonder. I have to admit, I don't have a model to work with, but wonder whether a 20-40megaton nuke would have more or less effect than let's say a 3042 ton Saturn V launched from earth, which IIRC can get 45 tons to the moon. The first thing I'm thinking is the water saturated in the rocks of the asteroid belt, which will be vaporized. The second thing I'm thinking is the ROCK which too would be vaporized to a certain extent. IIRC a 40mton on the ground will create a creator about 3km across by .5km d

      • Re:I always wondered (Score:5, Informative)

        by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:56PM (#24362799)

        A nuclear warhead intended to deflect an asteroid could be designed to penetrate the asteroid prior to detonation. Blasting away debris from the surface of the asteroid would allow you to "push" it effictively.

        And blasting it into little pieces would most certainly have an effect, since smaller pieces have more drag, they would be more likely to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere (same total energy, much wider dispersion). Also none of the resulting pieces are likely to have exactly the same trajectory as the original asteroid. Depending on the angle of impact, they will be moving at a different speed or in a different direction than the original.

        • by NockPoint (722613) on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:13AM (#24364099)
          And blasting it into little pieces would most certainly have an effect, since smaller pieces have more drag, they would be more likely to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere (same total energy, much wider dispersion).

          For a small object, yes.

          For a object big enough to seriously worry about, no. Think of it this way. Take a rock the size of the one that killed the dinosaurs. It had roughly 300 million nuclear weapons worth of energy. Break it into a million equal size pieces, and there are a million rocks with 300 times the energy of a nuclear weapon, each of which would be more than large enough to punch through the atmosphere. The damage would be more focused on the surface of the Earth, and less would be "wasted" on deep layers of rock.

          Small explosions are much more effective at destroying things than large explosions. That's why cluster bombs were invented.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There is no air to create blast wave and thermal flash, so all you get is some hard radiation and hand-grenade level of blast from vaporized bomb casing. And that's it.

        AIUI, you have to have the blast very close to the surface, if not actually on it. The radiation from the blast will be enough to vaporize some small amount of the asteroid. That vapor will leave the asteroid very quickly in the direction the blast came from and the rest of it will move in the other direction, although very slowly. I agr

      • Re:I always wondered (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sibko (1036168) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:58PM (#24363291)
        Oh man, oh man. I'm literally facepalming right now. Facepalming SO HARD.

        Nuclear explosions follow the inverse square law. The further you are from the source, the less radiation is hitting you. Nuclear weapons on Earth derive most of their destructive power from the shockwave they create in our atmosphere. However, they are still incredibly powerful reactions, and if you're close to one in space, it will still fry you.

        Project Orion would not 'take years to accelerate.' Unless you meant to add 'to a tenth the speed of light' at the end of that sentence. As it stands, Project Orion is the fastest, most practical spaceship would could design and build today. Chemical rockets don't even come close to what Project Orion is capable of.

        And the Orion doesn't have a 'reflector', it has a pusher plate. It's a heavy metal plate, on the end of a gigantic shock absorber, coated in oil or similar [To reduce ablation.] that absorbs the energy from the nuclear explosion so that everyone on board the ship doesn't get splattered by the intense acceleration. The ship is ultimately pushed by a plasma wave created by the explosion.

        An asteroid would be no different. Except that the surface might vaporize and act as additional reaction mass. The biggest problem I can envision with using a nuke to propel an asteroid is the difficulty you might have in predicting its new course.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Provocateur (133110)

        You can rain nukes on that asteroid till it glows, but that won't make much difference. Trick is, in the vacuum of space, nuclear explosion is weak. There is no air to create blast wave and thermal flash, so all you get is some hard radiation and hand-grenade level of blast from vaporized bomb casing. And that's it.

        Okay, I confess. We were trying to reduce the crapload of nuclear devices on this planet in a manner that seemed perfectly logical, with no casualties, only slightly technically flawed, but easie

      • Re:I always wondered (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anti_Climax (447121) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:33PM (#24363883)

        Project Orion would get around this problem by using thousands of little charges, detonated close to the reflector - and it would still take years to accelerate.

        An Orion style propulsion system is capable of getting a craft from earth to Pluto and back inside a year. If we're talking about speeding up, slowing down and then repeating after turning around, we're only talking about a few months to accelerate 100+ tons of spacecraft to it's cruising speed. Now I'm sure the math is different when dealing with a planet-killer sized asteroid, but the normal orion system is not accelerating for years.

        It bears mentioning that we don't need to stop or reverse a planet-killer sized mass, just push it off course for direct impact. Depending on how far out you're able to intercept it, you can get away with a very small push.

        And there is something to be said for blowing one into small pieces. Even if it's hitting us with the same total energy, having it dissipate in the atmosphere as those small pieces vaporize seems preferable to having several hundred or thousand tons of mass vaporize seawater or throw up a nuclear winter style plume of dust on impact with the surface.

  • now this!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 (671442) <lk_digitus AT hotmail DOT com> on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:00PM (#24362345) Homepage
    First an Apollo Astronaut says that the government has covered up Alien contact, now this!?
  • Test Trial (Score:2, Insightful)

    by failedlogic (627314)

    I would think, if the "safety of the Earth/mankind" is at risk .... Shouldn't they be putting their theory to work? I'd want to make sure that a nuke CAN divert the asteroid in practice than reading about an academic debate or reading that NASA administrators/management reiterate probably incorrectly that their plan of action is the right way (as always and as government organizations always do).

    Shouldn't there be an International Body finding a solution. The US isn't the only country with nukes, the right

    • The simply answer is that the physics are already known, and it all depends on how far in the future the impact is before we detect it. Given a century just about anything would work. Given less than a year, almost nothing would.

      Given a couple decades, yes, there are a number of non-nuclear options. A nice high impulse drive, perhaps a number of them, set into the surface of the asteroid. They thrust in the proper direction over a long period of time, and we end up being able to put the asteroid pretty

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by CmdrGravy (645153)

        The best option would be to blow a number of large, couple of thousand cubic miles, of the moon off into space and fit them with engines. Then you'd just have them orbit about the place and whenever a rouge asteroid was detected manuver the nearest large chunk close by to capture the asteroid in it's gravity and then safely drive it off somewhere else.

        I'm sure this would be a really simple soloution and free from any dangerous side effects where things could go wrong.

    • by m4cph1sto (1110711) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:26PM (#24363067)
      An International Body - you mean like the U.N.? What do you think would happen if we put them in charge? They'd mail a letter to the asteroid explaining that they are very disappointed with its current trajectory, and in the end any direct action would be vetoed by China.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ameline (771895)

        > and in the end any direct action would be vetoed by China.

        And likely Russia too. :-)

        (Flying there later today... Russia, that is, not China or an asteroid, although I'm sure are those who would prefer I travel to the latter :-)

  • by WK2 (1072560) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:02PM (#24362359) Homepage

    The main problem with nukes is that criminals will be released from the Phantom Zone if a nuclear weapon goes off in space.

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      The main problem with nukes is that criminals will be released from the Phantom Zone if a nuclear weapon goes off in space.

      At least Zod was *competent* at being evil. I just can't respect incompetent evil like W. I say it's time to vote for the greater of two evils. Release the nuclear hounds!

      (And no Cthulu jokes, please.)

  • The reason for nukes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:18PM (#24362467) Homepage

    Nukes have been a popular options because:
    1. We have them.
    2. They have a high ISP (a measure of efficiency) when used as propulsion against a large object. Paradoxically, the ISP for Orion-style nuke propulsion increases with the size/mass of the object.
    3. They're much more portable compared to most other types of methods.

    Schweikart has identified the REALLY valuable truth, that we need to improve our detection method. We also need to develop deep space capability because the further out we can intercept them, the less energy is needed to perform the deflection. Lower energy can also mean less danger of fracturing the mass.

    • by beav007 (746004)
      I have never seen an ISP that could be used as a measure of efficiency. Incompetence, sure, but not efficiency...
    • by burdock (1251938) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @10:11PM (#24363367)

      Redirecting an asteroid on an Earth impacting trajectory was discussed in depth quite a few years ago in Scientific American magazine. There are a variety of ways to deal with such an asteroid, depending on size, composition, and how advanced the warning is.

      There are two main responses: redirection and pulverization. If the asteroid is structurally week and small it can be pulverized so that the pieces will burn up on atmospheric entry. This has the advantage that it can be done with little advance warning. One novel proposal involved a 3 dimensional mesh built around tungsten nodes. It would be compact for launch yet still spread out and stay grouped together for a long distance strike.

      Redirection is necessary for large or durable asteroids. Spin would make it difficult to have a vehicle in contact with it redirect it over time. Reliable redirection would require delivery of multiple kinetic payloads over time. Each payload strike would have the danger of fracturing the asteroid; widening the potential Earth-impact damage.

      Focused, reflected, solar energy has been proposed to redirect ice based asteroids with much advanced warning. Even X-ray cannons have be proposed, along with other laser based solutions. A thermonuclear device ignited adjacent to an asteroid would vaporize a layer off its exposed surface, redirecting the asteroid. This would even be effective against iron-ore asteroids. There is also less likelihood of fracture than kinetic impact. Close asteroids can be acted upon multiple times for faster redirection.

      A nuclear solution has the advantages of being effective at long range and at ranges to close for the other listed methods to be effective. It is less likely to cause fracturing and would work against any material composition.

      Reliable long range detection would allow other methods to be effective, but thermonuclear warheads are a mature technology, would be effective at short range and we do not have to station them in space ahead of use.

  • by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:25PM (#24362519) Homepage

    ... asteroids vs duke nukem :D

  • Why bother at all? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:28PM (#24362563) Homepage Journal

    The probability is vanishingly small we'll get crunchified and the likelihood of any bureaucratic solution even working is also damn low. So let's just accept that there's a nonzero probability that we'll all get wiped out. Worst case we all die someday anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually the probability of an impact over a relatively large interval of time is quite high. It is only over small intervals of time, geologically speaking, that the probability is small.

      Would the Apollo program qualify as a bureaucratic endeavor? I think you would be surprised how well people cooperate when they feel their civilization is in jeopardy.

      As for just accepting that nonzero probability, we must all do so on some level. Even if we eventually have a good asteroid tracking program in place, there

  • We still have that wrecked Goa'uld starship's hyperdrive.
  • by ACS Solver (1068112) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:36PM (#24362633)

    Not exactly what TFA is talking about, but I dislike how the very real threat of asteroids is trivialized in the public mind. Every time astronomers discover a remotely threatening asteroid, anything that hits 1 on Torino scale, journalists warn of a dangerous collision that could wipe out a continent, yadda yadda, while further observation of the asteroid over the next weeks shows that there's no chance of collision. So the public hears these stories about asteroids at least once a year and many thus think that it's a bogus threat because, oh, whenever journalists warn of a possible collision it turns out to be a non-threat, so it will never be a threat, right?

    Makes me wish that journalists would just shut up about any objects lower than 3 on the Torino Scale.

  • by aapold (753705) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:39PM (#24362661) Homepage Journal
    If you identify objects on collision course in time, only a very minor adjustment in its trajectory will result in it missing by a very wide (and safe) margin.
  • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Sunday July 27, 2008 @08:43PM (#24362679)
    Well, duh! Nukes are second best, only to be used if Chuck Norris is unavailable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Well, duh! Nukes are second best, only to be used if Chuck Norris is unavailable.

      I'm all for launching Chuck Norris into space. But, what about this asteroid problem?
           

  • by StormReaver (59959) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:04PM (#24362869)

    Didn't anyone ever watch Star Trek? This is such a simple problem. Just change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the object and making it easy to move. Oww! Where is that doctor?!

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:04PM (#24363705) Journal

    Wouldn't it make sense to try it as an experiment to gather hard data on how different types of asteroid react and as an excercise in examining the logistical problems and actual effect from a practical perspective?

    It may make sense to have a gun, but if you don't know *which* gun to use...

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:18PM (#24363801) Homepage Journal

    After all, they already had asteroid-blasting spaceships in the late 70's.

  • Wiki, Asteroid Deflection [wikipedia.org]

    NYT Study suggests mirrors best [nytimes.com]

    NASA has non-nuke plans [theregister.co.uk]

    Using a 300Kg impactor [arstechnica.com]

    Seems the consensus is that nukes would only be used if we discovered the asteroid too late for other methods to be effective.

  • by jandersen (462034) on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:14AM (#24364707)

    Why don't we just send up a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses with pamphlets? I have seen even the biggest, strongest men hide behind the sofa when just one of them is at the door; it shouldn't take more than, say, ten to make an average sized asteroid go away.

  • unfortunately (Score:3, Interesting)

    by speedtux (1307149) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:48AM (#24365231)

    It was a nefarious excuse to put nuclear weapons in space.

    Unfortunately, it looks like a hidden agenda is behind quite a bit of space policy.

    Space solar power [nasa.gov] (now abandoned) was another attempt at getting weapons into space: collecting solar energy in space makes no economic sense, but it does make sense as an excuse to get a giant, city busting energy weapon into space.

    Nuclear propulsion [space.com] is another such attempt: it makes no sense for solar system exploration, but it does make sense as an excuse to get atom bombs into space.

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