Asteroids Aff

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DOD control of NEO detection fails – secrecy is harmful and unpopular

Sommer 2005 – PhD candidate at the Pardee RAND graduate school (Geoffrey S., “ Astronomical Odds A Policy Framework for the Cosmic Impact Hazard ”

Information Control Secrecy is at the far end of the spectrum of information management. Should they be approved and funded, future survey systems will have more centralized control than today, not depending on the assistance of amateur astronomers for follow-up. This opens up the policy option, at least, for information control rather than just management. Information control is tolerated by democracies in cases in which it is clear that such control is exercised for social benefit. Certainly, in issues relating to national security, few would argue that the public’s right to know is absolute rather than moderated by the imperative of state survival. In matters relating to the NEO impact hazard, however, even the inclusion of information control as one of a number of policy options is highly controversial. Along those lines, Appendix B documents an unplanned social experiment coincident with a presentation by this author at the 2003 conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Denver, Colorado. There are a number of specific reasons for this aversion to secrecy, some more soundly based than others. Scientists and the news media both have professional predilections toward openness, and the NEO community and the media have a commonality of interest (as noted in the discussion that accompanies Figure 5.9) that would cause a mutual reinforcement of this bias. On the other hand, many scientists work on military projects and are accustomed to extensive social control over the fruits of their labor, including the imposition of secrecy. One need look no further than the field of nuclear weapons design and testing, and international efforts to counter nuclear proliferation. Scientists in the NEO community are pure scientists, not applied scientists, and therein lies the difference. Astronomy is a science that usually has no direct application to social concerns. From an analytical perspective, there is one overriding concern: that the imposition of information control not induce processes that result in a net social cost, rather than the expected benefit. If NEO secrecy were to result in a chronic distrust of institutions and governments, such distrust would necessarily generate social costs. Even worse, those costs would be unquantifiable and intractable. Further, distrust could be engendered in policy areas far afield from the impact hazard.


The plan alone solves—the US can deflect with no international assistance

MORRISON 2005 - NASA Astrobiology Institute (David, “ Defending the Earth Against Asteroids: The Case for a Global Response ” Science and Global Security, 13:87–103 )

We do not have today the technology to deflect an asteroid, especially not one of the most dangerous class, which are larger than 1 km. However, it seems reasonable to expect that if such a large asteroid is discovered, one whose impact could kill more than 1 billion people and destabilize world civilization, the space-faring nations would find a way to accomplish the deflection and save the planet. One hopes that this could be accomplished through broadly based international collaboration, but it is also plausible that one nation, such as the United States, might take the lead or even go it alone. Given such a specific threat to our planet, almost any level of expense could be justified. This effort would represent the largest and most important technological challenge ever faced, and whether it is successful or not, world civilization would be forever changed.


Federal action is necessary to provide common standards, promote competition, and coordinate results

STOKES et al 2002 (Stokes, Evans, and Larson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Near-Earth Asteroid Search Program,  Asteroids III,

Asteroid searches over the past 20 years have been carried out by a number of independent groups using a variety of telescopes and detectors. Prior to the U.S. Congressional mandate, there were only three groups consistently observing. There was relatively little competition for funding and regions of the sky to search. As support to achieve the congressional mandate became available through NASA, development of detectors and efficient detection algorithms became the natural outcome of a more competitive environment. Today, with the growing number of mature survey systems, it is possible to cover the entire observable sky on a monthly basis. To optimize efficiency and minimize needless duplication, it is appropriate to consider coordination among the major search programs An active series of discussions started in 1999 between the major U.S. survey teams to address the issue of coordination. The premise of the discussions has been that the resources available for asteroid search should be applied in such a way as to maximize the total joint productivity of the search systems. One notable result has been the e-mail distribution to all the surveys of coverage lists of fields successfully observed with estimates of typical limiting magnitudes. This is represented graphically by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) Web site and the Lowell Observatory site. An example is shown in Plate 1. This method of coordination allows each search program to plan the night’s observations with an understanding of what other area programs have covered recently, and how deep the coverage was. As an added benefit, the site is available to amateur observers and other small-scale programs that want to work around the major systems. The next phase of the coordination effort centers on finding some a priori method of coordinating the various cooperating search systems in a way that achieves a larger joint productivity. This objective is quite complex due to the considerable differences between the operation’s concepts and tempos, capabilities and maturities. The current consensus of the discussions is that most of the survey systems are evolving quickly and have not yet demonstrated their ultimate capability. In addition, we believe that in order to achieve a level of coordination beyond that currently operating, the capabilities of each of the systems must be evaluated in a common framework and against a common standard. Considerable discussion on the subject has led to an agreement to pursue this goal on several fronts as follows: Task 1. Maintain comparable search experience information for all searches. This will allow a better understanding of how the search programs compare with one another and will allow extraction of experience information on a common basis. This will be accomplished by defining common elements for each search program’s database, which will contain look-by-look standard measures of the seeing and magnitude limit based upon star measurements. Task 2. Develop a common understanding of the most effective search strategies to effect a search for 1-km and larger asteroids. For example, decide how to distribute observation effort across the sky for best productivity. This task was initially approached by plotting the LINEAR detections of all NEAs and all large NEAs (H > 18) relative to the opposition in ecliptic coordinates. Only the first detection during a lunation was included and detections resulting from directed followup activities were excluded. The results of these plots are shown in Figs. 5a and 5b. The plots indicate that LINEAR detects asteroids at all declinations and an all-sky search is an appropriate strategy for systems with similar capability. If search systems can achieve a limiting magnitude performance substantially better than LINEAR, the strategy question will need to be revisited. Task 3. Develop a common measure of capability/capacity for each search system to enable a systematic approach to coordinating the search programs. One of the most important metrics for a search effort is the volume of space that the survey can search for asteroids larger than H = 18. This volume may be calculated by calibrating, on a field-by-field basis, the depth of the search for the detection of an H = 18 object. Once a reliable calibration method is found, the volume of each field can simply be accumulated over a period of time to generate an effective search volume.

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