Planetary Defense Timeline
- In their 1964 book, Islands in Space, Dandridge M. Cole and Donald W. Cox noted the dangers of planetoid impacts, both those occurring naturally and those that might be brought about with hostile intent. They argued for cataloging the minor planets and developing the technologies to land on, deflect, or even capture planetoids.
- In the 1980s NASA studied evidence of past strikes on planet Earth, and the risk of this happening at our current level of civilization. This led to a program that maps which objects in the Solar System both cross Earth's orbit and are large enough to cause serious damage if they ever hit.
- In the 1990s, US Congress held hearings to consider the risks and what needed to be done about them. This led to a US$3 million annual budget for programs like Spaceguard and the near-Earth object program, as managed by NASA and USAF.
- In 2005 the world's astronauts published an open letter through the Association of Space Explorers calling for a united push to develop strategies to protect Earth from the risk of a cosmic collision.
- It is currently (as of late 2007) believed that there are approximately 20,000 objects capable of crossing Earth's orbit and large enough (140 meters or larger) to warrant concern. On the average, one of these will collide with Earth every 5,000 years, unless preventative measures are undertaken. It is now anticipated that by year 2008, 90% of such objects that are 1 km or more in diameter will have been identified and will be monitored. The further task of identifying and monitoring all such objects of 140m or greater is expected to be complete around 2020.
- The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) is one of NASA´s four funded surveys to carry out a 1998 U.S. Congress mandate to find and catalog by the end of 2008, at least 90 percent of all near-Earth objects (NEOs) larger than 1 kilometer across. CSS discovered 310 NEOs in 2005, 400 in 2006 and the record will be broken with 450 NEOs found in 2007. In doing this survey they discovered on November 20, 2007, an asteroid, designated 2007 WD5, which initially was estimated to have a chance of hitting Mars on January 30, 2008, but further observations during the following weeks allowed NASA to rule out an impact. NASA estimated a near miss by 26,000 km.
- In January 2012, after a near pass-by of object 2012 BX34, a paper entitled “A Global Approach to Near-Earth Object Impact Threat Mitigation,” is released by researchers from Russia, Germany, the United States, France, Britain and Spain which discusses the “NEOShield” project.
Read more about this topic: Asteroid Impact Avoidance
Famous quotes containing the words planetary and/or defense:
“We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get round photosynthesis. We cannot say I am not going to give a damn about phytoplankton. All these tiny mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say in the most literal sense that we choose death.”
—Barbara Ward (19141981)
“He said, truly, that the reason why such greatly superior numbers quailed before him was, as one of his prisoners confessed, because they lacked a cause,a kind of armor which he and his party never lacked. When the time came, few men were found willing to lay down their lives in defense of what they knew to be wrong; they did not like that this should be their last act in this world.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)