Deep Impact Comet Bash, part 2

[coverage of Planetary Society’s Deep Impact Comet Bash: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 ]

Watching launch video of Deep Impact launch. (Doc M, watching, says, “That’s a good launch.”) Lovely crackling sound, that. Boeing Delta II (you can prolly see the same video on this page of mission animations)

Next up: Near-Earth Asteroid and Earth Impact Update, with Rusty Schweickart (one of apollo astronauts, apollo 9 testing lunar module). Intro by emcee Bruce Betts. Rusty is chair of B612 foundation (sounds like). which addresses the question, “What if asteroid headed to earth, what do we do?”

Unlike Lou’s unfortunate payload, Apollo 9 it got me up there, and got me back. Talking tonight about near-earth asteroids, with summary of where we stand in the world working on NEA (near earth asteroids), how to deflect asteroids that’d be headed toward earth.

B612 got together b/c more NEAs were being discovered, but not systematically studied. Goal: To significantly alter the orbit of an asteorid, in a controlled manner, by 2015.
the url for the site is
Oh! another TLA: NEO: Near earth objects… near earth asteroids, near earth comets.
He’s putting up graphs and stuff. (source: I’m not going to blog this so carefully unless it gets seriously interesting seriously fast.
Yay powerpoint, graphs, and laser pointers. He’s pimping the website, so yall go click that link, hear?

Okay, now I’m sitting up! Because he’s talking about a comet that’s headed toward earth.

The comet headed to earth… on Dec 28 of last year, he and his colleagues were sweating it out re: the comet heading toward us in 2029, comet in orbit…chances of earth impact went from 1 in 1000, 1 in 100, 1 in 38… then further discoveries resulted in a recalcuation where probability of earth impact went to zero.

But, if you’re young, make your plans… Go to Europe/UK because Friday April 13, 2029 at 9:40pm in southern sky, will be able to pick it out with naked eye, this asteroid, w/in 40 mins will miss the earth by 5 earth radius… it will come within geostationary satellite orbit. (the orbits used by geostationery satellites we’ve launched above)

(impact of hitting earth would’ve been 100 metagons of TNT. That’s BIG. [if you follow the unfolding 1945 atomic bomb series just getting underway on this site, there might be a sense of comparison])

He’s showing an orbit path, will it come inside or outside that three-sigma error ellipse. 5.68 radii out from earth (radius of earth).

The pass by the earth will affect its orbit, and change how it returns the next time. Could be 6 or 7 years. It could possibly possibly have a return path that’d cause earth impact, depending where in the error ellipse it passes. Direct earth impact is 7 chances in 10,000 that it’d hit us in 2035. or 2037

He’s displaying map of where the corridor of 2035 path of impact, (a line in Pacific that goes roughly from Portland, Oregon to North Carolina.

Now is showing Tsunami models from this. in Open Ocean… Say bye-bye, Pacific Coast of the U.S. From Alaska to southern Mexico. Wave heights: range from 10 meters to 17 meters. (That’s 50-foot high waves). The Indian Ocean tsunami at Bandeh Aceh was 12 meters; Madagascar, 4.7 meters. Whole coast of CA would end up with 50% higher wave than Indian Ocean tsunami.

Now a disaster cost… (1 in 10,000 probability is same probability of car accident any day we get into the car. So if a $40,000 car, we’d pay $4/day to insure.) Projected losses from a hit to the earth/tsunami would be $400 billion infrastructure losses. So we should be spending $40 million a year to “insure” against the loss. (based on car insurance rates, etc.) “We’re driving around the solar system uninsured” More on all of this in the upcoming Planetary Report.

NASA is paying attenetion to report they sent, will have something (report?) coming out in August… he’s called on Congress to initiate analysis of situation. And also to make someone responsible for protecting us. 2nd item was addressed in the NASA 2006 Appropriations bill.

Get to asteroid 10-15 years before “impact” and push against it (w/ weight of a can of coke), 24 hours a day for a few months to change its orbit so slowly…. move enough so that 10 years later it’ll miss the earth rather than hitting it.

They’re suggesting it to be a way to “test” the Prometheus technology. It would be a good test of prometheus. Shows Image of spacecraft to dock w/ asteroid and push it. JPL decided it was one of 18 possible missions for Prometheus. NASA HQ narrowed it to 5. But in May, with new NASA Administrator’s changed priorities with NEP (nuclear electric propulsion), Prometheus is backburnered or set on a different timetable, so it’s currently in a kind of limbo of consideration for a future mission.

Concludes with recommendations for what should be done…. Q&A to come with the next speaker’s… so right now, a video!!! interview with mission personnel talking about it, intercut with the Totally Groovy Dan Maas Animation of the impact