Asteroids Aff

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Asteroid response is key to US leadership

NAC 2010 (“Report of the NASA Advisory Council Ad Hoc Task Force on Planetary Defense,” Oct 6,

Without the ability to detect the most numerous asteroids, to alter NEO orbits, and to lead a global effort to plan a deflection campaign, the only possible U.S. response would be evacuation and disaster response. If NASA fails to prepare for Planetary Defense, and then a sizeable random NEO strikes Earth without warning, the damage to the U.S.’s leadership and reputation would swell the tally of the event’s devastating effects. NASA should begin work now on forging its warning, technology, and leadership capacities into a global example of how to effectively shield society from a future impact.


The plan is key to human exploration of asteroids

The New Yorker 11 – Ted Friend, Staff writer for the New Yorker (February 28, “Vermin of the sky; who will keep the planet safe from asteroids?”, lexis)//DT

Nine days later, the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy recommended that NASA be the agency that oversees all research into planetary defense. Significantly, the decision also yoked NEO detection and mitigation to President Obama's plan to send humans to an asteroid by 2025, envisaging deflection activities "as part of the overall mission planning and objectives." At the moment, the number of asteroids judged suitable for a human visit is fewer than nine, and perhaps as few as zero. So there is an obvious need to find more asteroids-and to learn considerably more about what it's like to operate in their neighborhoods. Paul Abell, the lead NEO scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Flight Center, said that, to find the right asteroid for a human mission, "my personal opinion is we need a space-based survey telescope, which could give us up to forty times the number of targets." Within two and a half years, the Venus-orbit telescope touted by the Task Force could find several hundred promising asteroids closer to home, which could cut billions of dollars out of the price of a mission. Yet what would be a small step for a human mission turns out to be a giant leap for planetary defense: NASA has already indicated that it doesn't have the roughly six hundred and fifty million dollars needed to fund the telescope. And a practice grapple with an asteroid may occur, as vaguely promised by the White House, only when the human mission launches, in fourteen years. (If it does launch: in January, an internal NASA study suggested that a human mission to an asteroid would be "too costly.") One senior planetary-defense advocate suggests that should the human mission take precedence the tail would truly be wagging the dog. "Saving millions to billions of people and civilization itself is a more important goal than displaying American plumage and vigor by visiting an asteroid," he said. "But, in order to support three to five guys going to an asteroid, I may finally be able to find money for planetary defense."

That results in long-distance space travel and colonization

Cox and Chestek ’96 (Donald W., Doctor in Education and James H., Professional Engineer, “Doomsday Asteroid: can we survive?”, Print)//DT

While thoughtful people throughout the world are coming to recog­nize that the twentieth century is the age of spaceflight and that human­kind has been offered an opportunity for greatness beyond the wildest dreams of the philosophers of the past, few have yet recognized the unique importance of the planetoids in this great human adventure. There are at least six reasons why we believe the planetoids or aster­oids are uniquely important as targets for exploration and utilization: The asteroid-planetoids should prove to be the source of certain kinds of knowledge concerning the origin of the solar system and even of life itself—knowledge which can be found nowhere else. • The planetoids represent a potential threat to space travelers and even to our Earth. Planetoids in the form of meteorites have hit the Earth in the past and will do so in the future. The larger, more potentially destructive ones could be purposely deflected from their orbits—by madmen seeking to "control the world"—and made to strike the Earth, destroying whole countries or even continents. • They can be used as way stations and sources of rocket propellants for interplanetary vehicles. As we discuss in detail later, they can be mined for fuel, thus greatly reducing the cost and difficulty of long spaceflights. • The remarkably favorable energy balance of the planetoids relative to the Earth suggests the possibility of economic transport of raw materials from the planetoids to the Earth, as well as the possibility for capturing entire planetoids and bringing them into satellite orbits around the Earth. • They may well be the most desirable locations in the solar system for founding extraterrestrial colonies. • They offer a possible way (and the most practical way yet pro­posed) for sending human colonists beyond our solar system to populate the planets of other stars. For these reasons and many others, the United States and the world must now respond to the challenge of the planetoids.


The plan allows sufficient lead time to develop non-nuclear deflection tech—the alternative is using thermonuclear weapons

Asphaug 2002 (October 24, Erik, “ Sizes and Structures of Comets and Asteroids: What is Worth Mitigating, and How? ” NASA Workshop on Scientific Requirements for Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids, pg. 8-9)

Yet we must speculate “what if 2002 NT7 was headed our way in 2019”. Thermonuclear asteroid mitigation – perhaps our only hope, today, in that oneina-million dire circumstance – can easily be developed alongside existing weapons testing and development programs. Indeed, research in this area can be continued, and even promoted, in a manner that affirms Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty (prohibiting weapons in space) and which affirms the present Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Thermonuclear weapons design is done in the modern era by computer modeling, coupled with field- and lab-testing of individual deployable components in a manner that does not yield an explosion. Of particular relevance is the United States Department of Energy Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative which oversees modeling efforts using the world’s fastest supercomputers to perform high-fidelity simulations running advanced 3D thermophysical and nuclear reaction codes. DoE-ASCI is a well-established and well-funded research program that is already perfectly suited to oversee model development and testing of any thermonuclear asteroid mitigation scenario, alongside the DoE’s banner goal to “shift promptly from nuclear test-based methods to compute-based methods” (see ). Of course, blowing up asteroids with weapons of mass destruction is a last resort and would be an emblem of our ignorance – the above is not a responsible plan for the long term human future. The far more likely scenario is that we shall detect all significantly hazardous bodies soon enough, and learn how to divert them in a controlled manner. One need not be branded a blind optimist to presume that advanced and benign, perhaps even profitable technologies for NEO mitigation shall be developed in the coming centuries, so that thermonuclear asteroid mitigation never happens. In the year 25,000 – the average time between now and the next 300 m asteroid strike – we will presumably have better tools. But in the interim it is a rational safeguard to learn the detailed effects of high energy explosions on asteroids by combining existing models for asteroid impact disruption with existing national security computations related to weapons performance. But any model is only as good as its boundary conditions, and any mitigation modeling program would have to be complemented by extensive field reconnaissance of asteroids and comets. Which brings us back to the scientific requirements that are the subject of this conference: how do we adequately characterize an asteroid’s geology.

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