Astronauts plan $250 million asteroid telescope ‘to stop disaster’.
By Jacqui Goddard 19th April 2014. Find Full Article Here:-
Apollo astronauts warn only “blind luck” has prevented worse disasters as they push for $250 million telescope to spot asteroids on collision course with Earth.
As members of an elite band of cosmic explorers, they are among the few to have gone beyond the final frontier and looked down on the Earth from space.
Now, inspired by the unique perspective they gained of their home planet – and armed with startling new data about the scale of the threat it faces from asteroid strikes – a group of former Nasa astronauts are on an extraordinary mission to save the world.
Fourteen months after an asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on a scale equivalent to 30 Hiroshima bombs, the B612 Foundation, a non-profit group founded by Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and space shuttle astronaut Ed Lu, are warning that only “blind luck” has so far saved it from worse.
“It’s a giant game of chance we’re playing. It’s cosmic roulette,” said Dr Lu, whose group is working towards building and launching Sentinel, a $250 million telescope that would spot space rocks on a collision course with the earth, giving several years or even decades worth of notice to deflect a disaster.
“There’s a saying in Vegas that ‘The house never loses’. It’s true; you can’t just keep playing a game of chance and expect to keep winning,” added Dr Lu, the group’s chief executive officer.
Data obtained by Dr Peter Brown, a planetary scientist and asteroid expert at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, revealed that since 2001 the earth has been rocked by atomic bomb-scale asteroid impacts 26 times; up to ten times more frequently than previously thought.
On Tuesday, which is Earth Day, the B612 Foundation will hold a press conference to unveil more critical details, including a video presentation that will for the first time reveal the locations and sizes of the multi-kiloton impacts.
“We are literally in a shooting gallery,” said Mr Schweickart. “That’s the message we want people to understand. It’s happening, it’s ongoing, and the big ones will come. It’s just a matter of when.”
The video is based on information from the International Monitoring System, a network of sensors set up around the world to verify compliance with the global ban on nuclear weapons testing. The technology detects sound waves and shock waves above and below Earth’s surface.
Since only 28 per cent of the planet’s surface is land, and only one per cent is populated, the majority of asteroid strikes are in remote regions, deserts and oceans.