I ran across this article from The Independent about moving asteroids:
End of the world plan: scientists to nudge asteroid off course as practice for protecting the Earth
This is a plan to send a spacecraft to an asteroid by 2020, to intercept the asteroid by 2020, and see what we can learn. This makes good engineering sense – use what we have to see if it does what we think it can do.
This, I think, is just exactly what we should be doing at this time – building and trying out a prototype to do just this. We today have what we think are technologically feasible methods of deflecting asteroids or comets. And we THINK we know what their make-up is. But we don’t know exactly for sure, either one. The correct approach is to learn about the asteroids and to learn HOW to intercept any dangerous bodies flying around “out there”. So, doing this is a REALLY smart thing to do.
I like that they are sending it FAR out – two years out – because, as we all know, the earlier we mitigate an actual threatening asteroid by deflection, the easier it is to change the course enough to miss Earth.
It is an obligation for our generation to DO this – to actually LEARN how to do this, because we are the first generation to have the capacity to stop an extinction level event. If we screw this opportunity up, mankind will always be starting over from scratch – always be blown back to the Stone Age.
HAS IT HAPPENED BEFORE? IF SO, WHO IS TO SAY IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN?
Orthodox science now considers that our history has been a linear ascent, up from nothing, and that this ascent has never happened before. This despite the evidence of civilizations in the very remote past that were capable of some technological achievements that were more or less equal to things we do now. I refer to the megalithic cities and sites around the world and some of their incredible stone work. The orthodoxy misreads these as having been done by people working with copper chisels and granite balls being dropped many millions of times to work stone. Christopher Dunn, for one, has shown how inadequate such orthodox thinking is.
So, if there is ANY evidence of high technology of ANY kind that existed in the past, the orthodoxy is busted, and our history is, therefore, NOT a linear ascent but an interrupted history. With SOME forensic evidence of the YDIH now in hand (no matter HOW much a small group of skeptics thinks otherwise), we appear to have evidence from TWO angles that humankind has experienced an extinction level event before. For one, we have sites with incredible stone work, in most cases far beyond the capacities of the aboriginal societies that Europeans found. Secondly, we have the evidence in nanodiamonds and other impact materials.
The lesson, it seems, is that it appears to have happened BEFORE. And if it did, we are SORELY obligated to prevent it happening to US.
The End of the World is NOT a fore-ordained event, not if we humans can do anything about it. And the way to do it is logically, step by step. We don’t want to end up like all the End of the World movies, in which we have to take a flyer on some un-tried method. We have the technology, and we have the people, and we have the TIME – to do it RIGHT.
And if we DO – if we succeed – we buy humankind time, at least until the next Big One – and that might be another 10,000 or 100,000 years. And what capacities will humankind have a chance to develop, given that much time? Look at what we’ve done in our 12,000 or so years of civilization so far. If there was a “last time” – if we got hit in the past – we can see that they got very far in terms of architecture and building. But they are not around anymore, so they didn’t develop enough to protect themselves.
But even if there were NOT such sites around the world, we STILL are here and now, and we DO have this capacity to develop methods – reliable methods – for “saving the Earth” and preventing the End of the World. (They used the term in their headline, so I feel I have free reign to use the term, too.)
THE RIGHT PROJECT, AT THE RIGHT TIME
I see this spacecraft project as being a logic and hugely important first real step toward being able to do that anytime we need to – and to know that it will do the job. Sooner or later SOME such body will come at us. It might be in 100 years or 100,000 years, but it WILL happen. Every crater on every solid body in our solar system tells us it DOES happen. Shoemaker-Levy 9 tells us also that it happens on UN-solid bodies, too – leaving no evidence on those that comets and asteroids DO hit planets. (We have observed that two other bodies have impacted on Jupiter since SL-9.)
If we pretend that we are some blessed planet that is immune to impacts, that is to be ostriches with our heads in the ground. I, for one, think that that is a monumentally STUPID approach.
THIS spacecraft is IMPORTANT. We are doing the right thing, and at the right time.
(Thank the stars that Chelyabinsk has people taking this seriously.)