14 April 2013

Meteor / Asteroid Update

There has been no lack of press coverage on Meteors / Asteroids:

Two in the mainstream New Yorker
A factual update on the Russian impact from Kurzweil
And a longer essay from larouchepac...wonder if any of the other political parties are beginning to consider it an issue.

Here is an article saying a Planetary Defense System needed and may be feasible:
In the wake of an announcement made by head of Russia’s Space Agency Roskosmos Vladimir Popovkin on the need to create a planetary defense system, Izvestia interviewed several experts on the subject of its feasibility.
In the wake of an announcement made by head of Russia’s Space Agency Roskosmos Vladimir Popovkin on the need to create a planetary defense system, Izvestia interviewed several experts on the subject of its feasibility. Anatoliy Zaytsev, General Director of a non-commercial partnership with a straightforward name “Planetary Defense Center”, believes Earth needs such a system and, indeed, it’s possible to create one. Providing the Siberian meteorite as an example, the expert explains that the system will not work from the planet’s surface and needs to be space-based – he proposes deploying several satellites in key points to monitor incoming threats.
He adds that while Russia has the knowledge base and resources to create such a system, it needs to be international – a national system in theory could be used by government for ulterior purposes. With international legal issues to resolve in order to implement the idea, Zaytsev reminds that a proposal for a global natural disaster monitoring system already exists, as requested by Toni Blair ahead of the 2005 G20 summit. Another spokesman from the Russian aerospace industry who the article does not name believes it unlikely for Russia to be capable of seeing through such a complex project. Moreover, he doubts that such a system is even physically possible.***

And there has been quite a bit of news on the upcoming gathering for the PDC conference:
3rd IAA Planetary Defense Conference
15-19 April 2013
Arizona (USA)
On 15 and 19 April 2013, in Flagstaff, USA, the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be holding the conference on the protection of our planet from impacts by asteroids and comets.
The IAA Planetary Defense Conference carries on from the four previous planetary defense conferences held in 2004 in Los Angeles, 2007 in Washington DC, 2009 in Granada, Spain and 2011 in Bucharest, Romania.
As in previous years GMV will be sponsoring the event and is also offering a money prize for the best student papers presented at the conference.

Find the PROGRAM to the PDC Conference Here (a lot on airbursts and Chelyabinsk):
Also an international simulation, and UN recommendations for international response!

It is discussed in this article:

Near-Earth objects and recent asteroid events top the agenda for Planetary Defense Conference

April 2nd, 2013
The February 15 explosion of an incoming asteroid over in the Russian Urals was a unique event. No one in modern times had ever witnessed such a display of celestial fireworks, which injured more than a thousand people from flying glass. But for the past 20 years astronomers have been studying the cosmic impact hazard, so they were prepared to react quickly to investigate this remarkable event. The first scientific report on their preliminary findings will be presented on April 14 as part of an international meeting on Planetary Defense. This discussion will be free to the press and the public.
"Gathering for Impact!", the 2013 International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Planetary Defense Conference, will be held in Flagstaff, Ariz., on April 15-19. The conference brings together world experts on subjects related to planetary defense, including what we currently know about potentially threatening asteroids and comets, techniques that might be used to deflect a threatening object, and political and policy issues that might affect a decision to take action. The conference will include an exercise where participants develop civil protection and threat mitigation responses to a hypothetical threat.
Preliminary data indicate that the Chelyabinsk projectile was about 20 meters (60 feet) in diameter, or half the diameter of the famous Tunguska impact of 1908, which leveled more than a thousand square miles of forest. Both projectiles were stony fragments of asteroids. The energy of the Chelyabinsk blast was about 500 KT, or the equivalent of 40 Hiroshima-size atom bombs. It had about a tenth of the energy, and exploded about twice as high as, the Tunguska blast, thus doing much less damage on the ground.
Since this cosmic projectile exploded in daylight over a major city, there is an abundance of videos and eyewitness accounts. The explosion was also observed from space and was detected around the world by its atmospheric pressure wave. Further, the explosion produced a shower of small stones that spread over an area at least 15 km (10 miles) across. These meteorites are an important part of the evidence for what happened.
The special session on the Chelyabinsk Event and its Implications for Planetary Defense will be held at 7:30 pm on April 14, the evening before the opening of the week-long 2013 IAA Planetary Defense Conference. The chief organizer of the special Chelyabinsk session is David Morrison of the SETI Institute in Mt. View, California. Morrison said "The explosion over Chelyabinsk was a wake-up call to the continuing threat of cosmic projectiles. We all have a long-term stake in learning about these projectiles so that someday we will have the capability to discover objects before they collide and take necessary action to prevent a disaster."
The three invited speakers and their topics are:
David Kring (Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston): A Geologic and Meteoritic Perspective of Impact Airbursts and Insights into the Chelyabinsk Event
Peter Brown (University of Western Ontario): The Chelyabinsk Airburst: A Preliminary Overview of Observations
Mark Boslough (Sandia National Lab, Albuquerque): Computational Simulations of Chelyabinsk and Tunguska Airbursts
In addition there will be other shorter papers and a concluding panel discussing the implication of this event for future efforts to protect our planet from cosmic impacts.
The conference is being hosted on the campus of Northern Arizona University (NAU). Just a short drive away is the world famous Barringer Meteor Crater, the best preserved meteor impact site in the world. Flagstaff is also home to Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered in 1930. Flagstaff is a mountain town surrounded by national forests and is close to the Grand Canyon and many other natural wonders. NAU has a high-research status, and is a leader in sustainability, science, business, green building, and cultural arts. Empowered by the Arizona Board of Regents to provide educational opportunities statewide, the university now serves approximately 25,000 students at the Flagstaff campus, offering nearly 150 combined undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

A less detailed article here:

Interestingly, the conference features two free public events (ALREADY SOLD OUT):
Internationally known speaker, comedian, author, scientist and media personality Bill Nye The Science Guy, will discuss planetary defense at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at NAU’s Prochnow Auditorium.
Nye will be joined by Geoff Notkin of the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men
Two events are free and open to the public, according to David Trilling, assistant professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University and local organizer of the conference.
At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14, there will be a special pre-conference session on the Chelyabinsk (Russia) impact event of Feb. 15. On that day, a 15-meter object exploded in the atmosphere over a city of 1 million people. Several experts will discuss the impact and what scientists have learned. This free session will include ample time for questions.
Once the conference is under way, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye The Science Guy will discuss planetary defense at NAU’s Prochnow auditorium. Nye, an internationally known speaker, comedian, author, scientist and media personality, will be joined by Geoff Notkin of the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men.
Tickets to the event became available this week; no seats remain, but organizers hope to secure overflow seating with a live video feed.

In fact, the fact that it sold out made news:

2:15 p.m. update: Bill Nye talk on planetary defense sold out

NAU officials have confirmed that Bill Nye’s talk next week on planetary defense is sold out. The free tickets were gone less than a day after the event was announced.
The 800-seat Prochnow Auditorium on campus will be at capacity for the talk. Organizers are looking at a possible simulcast at another site on campus, but have not confirmed those arrangements.
The talk by Nye is one of two public presentations as part of the Planetary Defense Conference. A lead-off public presentation by a panel of scientists on last month's Russian meteor strike will take place Sunday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the High Country Conference Center, and seats will be available on first-come, first served basis.
The university had initially announced the Nye talk would be in the Cline Library Auditorium, but quickly changed the location due to demand for tickets.
Officials with the Central Ticketing Office said that many people were willing to pay a $3 fee to book the tickets by phone, which contributed to how fast the tickets went. A large number of people also came into the office looking for tickets.
 From: http://www.universetoday.com/100400/nasas-kaboom-experimental-asteroid-radar-aims-tothwart-earths-kaboom/
‘KaBOOM’ – the acronym stands for ‘Ka-Band Objects Observation and Monitoring Project’ – is a new test bed demonstration radar array aimed at developing the techniques required for tracking and characterizing Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) at much further distances and far higher resolution than currently available.
“The purpose of KaBOOM is to be a ‘proof of concept’ using coherent uplink arraying of three widely spaced antennas at a high frequency; Ka band- 30 GHz,” KaBOOM Chief Scientist Geldzahler told me.
Currently the KaBOOM array consists of a trio of 12 meter wide radar antennas spaced 60 meters apart – whose installation was just completed in late February at a remote site at KSC near an alligator infested swamp.
“The KaBOOM concept is similar to that of normal phased arrays, but in this case, instead of the antenna elements being separated by ~ 1 wavelength [1 cm], they are separated by ~ 6000 wavelengths. In addition, we want to correct for the atmospheric twinkling in real time,” Geldzahler told me.
Why are big antennae’s needed?
“The reason we are using large antennas is to send more powerful radar signals to track and characterize asteroids farther out than we can today. We want to determine their size, shape, spin and surface porosity; is it a loose agglomeration of pebbles? composed of solid iron? etc.”
Such physical characterization data would be absolutely invaluable in determining the forces required for implementing an asteroid deflection strategy in case the urgent need arises.
How does KaBOOM compare with and improve upon existing NEO radars in terms of distance and resolution?
“Currently at NASA¹s Goldstone 70 meter antenna in California, we can track an object that is about 0.1 AU away [1 astronomical unit is the average distance between the Earth and the sun, 93 million miles, so 0.1 AU is ~ 9 million miles]. We would like to track objects 0.5 AU or more away, perhaps 1 AU.”
“In addition, the resolution achievable with Goldstone is at best 400 cm in the direction along the line of sight to the object. At Ka band, we should be able to reduce that to 5 cm – that’s 80 times better !”
Another significant advantage compared to Goldstone, is that the Ka radar array would be dedicated 24/7 to tracking and characterizing NEO’s and orbital debris, explained Miller.
Goldstone is only available about 2 to 3% of the time since it’s heavily involved in numerous other applications including deep space planetary missions like Curiosity, Cassini, Deep Impact, Voyager, etc.
A high power, high resolution radar system can determine the NEO orbits about 100,000 times more precisely than can be done optically.
...Now in a prescient coincidence of timing, NASA is funding an experimental asteroid radar detection array called ‘KaBOOM’ that may one day help thwart Earth’s untimely Ka-boom – and which I inspected first-hand this past week at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC),following the SpaceX Falcon 9 blastoff for the ISS. “KaBOOM takes evolutionary steps towards a revolutionary capability,” said Dr. Barry Geldzahler, KaBOOM Chief Scientist of NASA Headquarters, in an exclusive interview with Universe Today.
Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/100400/nasas-kaboom-experimental-asteroid-radar-aims-tothwart-earths-kaboom/#ixzz2QR7tUO3S

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