[meteorite-list] Asteroids Fighters, Unite: United Nations Votes to Create Global Force

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 16:49:07 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201310282349.r9SNn7ra029922_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Asteroid fighters, unite: UN votes to create global force
By Deborah Netburn
Los Angeles Times
October 28, 2013

Even the United Nations is taking the threat of asteroids hitting our
planet seriously.

Last week, the U.N. General Assembly approved measures to coordinate detection
and response to asteroid strikes that could level cities and possibly
destroy our civilization.

Specifically, the agency voted to create an International Asteroid Warning
Network made up of scientists, observatories and space agencies around
the planet to share information about newly discovered asteroids and how
likely they are to impact Earth. The group will also work with disaster
relief organizations to help them determine the best response to an asteroid
impact like the one that rattled the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February.

The U.N. will also set up a space mission planning advisory group to look
into how humans might deflect an asteroid heading our way -- the best
options, the costs and the technologies needed. The results of that study
will be shared with space agencies throughout the world.

The General Assembly also agreed that the existing U.N. Committee on
the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space would monitor threats from asteroids
and help plan and authorize a deflection campaign if necessary.

These measures were based in part on recommendations from the Association
of Space Explorers, a professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts.
The group, made up entirely of people who have flown in the space, submitted
a report to the U.N. in 2009 titled "Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global
Response." The report outlined steps for how the U.N. could help prevent
a dangerous asteroid strike.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart
said the group believes decisions on how to respond to an asteroid threat
must be handled by an international body.

As of now, the only way to deflect a dangerous asteroid is to detect it
10 to 15 years in advance, and then alter its orbit slightly so it would
miss Earth, Schweickart said.

"The question is, which way do you move it?" he said. "And if something
goes wrong in the middle of the deflection, you have now caused havoc
in some other nation that was not at risk. Therefore, this decision of
what to do and how to do it, what systems to use, and all the rest of
it has to be coordinated internationally."

Schweickart described the measures recently adopted by the U.N. as a skeleton
of a decision-making process that will help guide the international community
on how to handle a threat if one arises.

"I say a skeleton because it has no meat or muscle on it yet, " he said.
"That is the challenge as we go forward."

The members of the space explorers group have already outlined the next
steps that they would like to see implemented in a global asteroid defense

They want to see national governments include asteroid impacts in their
disaster response plans and budgets, and they want policy makers to direct
national space agencies to launch an international asteroid deflection
demonstration in the next 10 years.

They also want to find the nearly 1 million near-Earth objects that could
potentially strike our planet.

"One-hundred years ago, if the Earth is hit by an asteroid ... that is
bad luck," said Ed Lu, an member of the group who spent seven months on
the International Space Station and is now chief executive of the B612
Foundation. "If 20 years from now we get hit again, that is not bad luck,
that is stupidity. We can do better as a race."
Received on Mon 28 Oct 2013 07:49:07 PM PDT

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