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Post Info TOPIC: Near-Earth Object Survey Act


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The DigitalSpace Commons
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NASA is exploring the possibility of sending astronauts to an asteroid, with hopes of making deep-space exploration more feasible.
The DigitalSpace Commons, a Santa Cruz, California-based company that develops an open-source 3D rendering system, has come up with the design for a new NASA spacecraft and a mission that could eventually allow humans to land on and explore an asteroid, or so-called near-Earth objects (NEO). The privately held company plans to unveil the design publicly Monday.

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Asteroid impact
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One of the main weaknesses of the environmental movement has been its unfortunate predilection for using doom-laden language and catastrophic superlatives to describe problems that are serious but not immediately disastrous. But one calamity that truly deserves such a description is almost never talked about. There are tens of millions of asteroids in the solar system, and several thousand move in orbits that take them close to Earth. Sooner or later, one of them is going to hit it.

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Near-Earth Objects
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Earth has been hit and is constantly at risk of attack by interlopers from space. These are called near earth objects (NEOs). Major players are asteroids. Most burn harmlessly during their trip through the atmosphere. However, just as in the intensely mediocre films, Armageddon and Deep Impact, there is more than a zero chance that a large one will threaten earth in the near future.
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RE: Near-Earth Object Survey Act
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An organization that investigates and is involved with future planning for Near Earth Object identification and deflection, B612, wants Nasa to release their own internal full report and open it up for peer review and comments. They say they received a scanned copy and are critical of what they are reading, saying it doesn't go far enough and is based on some flawed science.

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NASA analysis of asteroid risk deeply flawed
A NASA working document on ways to find and deflect celestial objects that might threaten Earth is deeply flawed in ways that exaggerate the cost and difficulty of the programme, critics say.
In December 2005, the US Congress gave NASA one year to submit plans for a survey that would catalogue 90% of all potentially hazardous near-Earth objects spanning at least 140 metres across by the end of 2020.
In March 2007, the agency delivered to Congress only a sketchy 27-page report that lacked any detailed analysis, a budget or an implementation plan. It recommends continuing NASA's annual $4.1 million search for asteroids down to 1 kilometre across. But it does not address searches for smaller asteroids, saying flatly, "due to current budget constraints, NASA cannot initiate a new program at this time".

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Near-Earth Astreroids
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To David Morrison, a senior scientist at NASA, the Earth orbits the sun in a sort of cosmic shooting gallery. More than 1 million asteroids spin around the sun, and it is Morrison's job to figure out which of these bodies of rock, dust and metal could come crashing down on Earth.
Right now, NASA is tracking 127 asteroids that have a very small chance of striking the planet. That number is about to get a lot higher. Stronger telescopes, and a new mandate from Congress, will allow scientists to detect thousands of smaller asteroids more likely to hit Earth. And scientists are plotting ways to stop them, from "gravity tractors" to solar ray guns.

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Near-Earth Objects
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Magdalena Ridge Observatory may join the search
NASA doesn't have the money to locate all of the asteroids that could collide with and cause devastating damage to Earth by its initial deadline, but two Socorro-area observatories could help with the hunt.
Earlier this month, NASA announced it doesn't have the $1 billion for its plan to find 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020, according to an article by Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein. Secondary options with different prices were also rejected.
However, New Mexico Tech astrophysicist Eileen Ryan is hoping the Magdalena Ridge Observatory will join the search. Also, two telescopes at the White Sands Missile Range's Stallion Range Centre, which is located east of San Antonio, N.M., have tracked near-earth asteroids since 1998.
Astrophysicist Jennifer Evans of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratories said the telescopes the labs operate at the Stallion Range have been used to find 1,800 of the more than 4,000 near-earth asteroids. NASA is funding the work.

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Latitude 33 59' 6'' N, Longitude 107 11' 21'' W

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Near-Earth Object Survey Act
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Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a software package for modelling asteroid impacts that enables them to assess the potential human and economic consequences across the globe.
The software, called NEOimpactor, has been specifically developed for measuring the impact of 'small' asteroids under one kilometre in diameter, and early results indicate that the ten countries most at risk are China, Indonesia, India, Japan, the United States, the Philippines, Italy, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Nigeria.
The team used the raw data from the multiple impact simulations to rank each country based on the number of times and how severely they would be affected by each impact. Early results show that in terms of population lost, China, Indonesia, India, Japan and the United States face the greatest overall threat; while the United States, China, Sweden, Canada and Japan face the most severe economic effects due to the infrastructure destroyed.

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Near-Earth Object Survey and Definition Analysis of Alternatives

Report to Congress March 2007
Section 321 of the NASA Authorisation Act of 2005 (Public Law No. 109-155), also known as the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act, directs the NASA Administrator to transmit an initial report to Congress not later than one year after the date of enactment that provides: (1) an analysis of possible alternatives that NASA may employ to carry out the survey program of near-Earth Objects (NEO), including ground- based and space-based alternatives with technical descriptions; (2) a recommended option and proposed budget to carry out the survey program pursuant to the recommended option; and (3) an analysis of possible alternatives that NASA could employ to divert an object on a likely collision course with Earth.
The objectives of the George E. Brown, Jr. NEO Survey Program are to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of NEOs equal to or larger than 140 meters in diameter with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Sun, achieving 90 percent completion of the survey within 15 years after enactment of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. The Act was signed into law by President Bush on December 30, 2005.

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