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General Discussion => Space Policy Discussion => Topic started by: Rocket Science on 02/17/2013 12:34 PM

Title: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/17/2013 12:34 PM
The events of the past few days serve as a reminder to the general public that there are objects out there that will eventually hit Earth.  There are surveys and studies being on cataloguing them and how to intercept or possibly deflect them.  The question is who is going to pay for it? I’m of the opinion that since all nations are a potential target and the cost should not be undertaken by America alone. Just like the U.S. should not be the policemen of the world, I feel that the cost should be shared. Taking the lead should not always equate to bearing the brunt of the cost by America... Perhaps it should be funded out of the UN, since all the member states would benefit from it and funding could hopefully be increased.
I am well aware of the arguments that earthy events take more lives per year etc.; however since the humanity only now has the potential technology for early warning and taking action we would be remiss in just being complacent and playing the odds for a potential mass extinction event.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Political Hack Wannabe on 02/17/2013 04:28 PM
The UN is probably a dead end.  The problem is that the US would HAVE to play a role, and the UN does not have a good reputation in the US (or at least, in large swaths of the US Congress)

However, I would like to pose a question - should this alter how we view the next destination for humans?  I know more than a few people who have been all about the moon, and ignored asteroids. 

Does this event change anyone's mind about which destination is or should be next?
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/17/2013 07:15 PM
I’m not exactly high on the UN as well but what they do have is an organizational body representative of the nations on Earth.  The U.S. more than likely would lead such an effort and contributions from member states could be based on some kind of proportion of GDP...
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: majormajor42 on 02/18/2013 02:03 AM
multinational funding would require a multinational project. It is hard to get other countries to contribute to something if their money will go towards jobs elsewhere. It is hard enough to get American Congress members to sign off on appropriations that are not spent in their districts.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Lar on 02/18/2013 04:24 AM
This veers into politics... but asteroid defense is a "tragedy of the commons" situation, I think... you can't realistically defend "just the US" can you? I can envision situations where you let the asteroid hit if it wasn't your country but I suspect that would play really badly.

What if building asteroid defense also got you mineral rights to any deflected asteroids? That is, revise the OST to pay for the defense???

What if there was a way to get insurance companies to pay shares for the coverage based on how much protection they write (the way fire companies were funded back in the days of the American Revolution) ?
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/18/2013 11:44 AM
I’m not exactly high on the UN as well but what they do have is an organizational body representative of the dictatorships on Earth.

Fixed that for you.

Quote
The U.S. more than likely would lead such an effort and contributions from member states could be based on some kind of proportion of GDP...

As long as control of the project is also based on proportion of GDP.

The US should not be so stupid as to hand over its money to an organization controlled by corrupt Third World oligarchs.

I would agree with that Jorge, we don’t need another money sink hole... Suggestions for "holding" of funds welcome... :)
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Political Hack Wannabe on 02/18/2013 02:38 PM
Within the context of the discussion, and depending on the time we had to actually respond, there are a few options that are actually viable

1) Inter-governmental agreement for ISS - this, I think is actually the easiest/most likely.  It already has all the likely players at the table.  In the event that time is particularly short, its possible you could reverse engineer this after the fact, if you will (IE we did this, and now that its done, and congratulations all around, we'll make it legal under ISS IGA).  The one "problem" is it doesn't include all of the space powers, but it does have most of them

2)  NATO - although NATO does not include all of the major space powers (Japan, Russia, China, India) there is precedent for NATO to work with non-member countries.  It also has a history of doing actual large scale operations, which is not necessarily the case for some other intergovernmental organizations
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Lar on 02/18/2013 02:51 PM
See also
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50840661/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.USJNYNf4ARc which is a story about a UN study group.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Lar on 02/18/2013 06:11 PM
This veers into politics... but asteroid defense is a "tragedy of the commons" situation, I think... you can't realistically defend "just the US" can you? I can envision situations where you let the asteroid hit if it wasn't your country but I suspect that would play really badly.

For large enough asteroids, it doesn't matter where it hits... the whole Earth is going to have a very bad day.

Even medium-sized asteroids can cause worldwide devastation if they hit the ocean (which covers 3/4 of the surface); the resulting tsunami could inundate coastal areas in many nations.

And ideally, if you were actually going to try to deflect asteroids, you'd want to detect them early enough that you don't yet really know where they're going to impact.

So I don't see your concern as being real, except for the case of small asteroids that are discovered late enough that we know right away where they're going to hit... and in that case I doubt we could deflect them anyway, only warn/evacuate.

"Tragedy of the commons" is another way of referring to "public goods" or the free rider problem... Asteroid defense, as you say, is something that the entire planet benefits from, because a large enough one getting through ensures everyone has a bad day.

So how to pay for it? The US CAN'T defend "just the US" on the US taxpayer nickel, it doesn't work that way. But most nations are going to say "why should we pay, let others pay" and be free riders.

I see this as a real challenge, especially to libertarians like me. So I posited some other possible ways to pay for it. Not sure how workable they are... mineral rights might not be worth the cost of deflection, and insurance levies may not be enforcable.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: R7 on 02/18/2013 07:29 PM
I agree with UN as a nonstart, you'd just make the bureaucracy squared.

NATO might rub many the wrong way. There are still important people who seem to not have gotten the memo that cold war is over. Conspiracies of covert military/ASAT aspirations would be endless.

Maybe a loose coalition of the willing, countries that have a credible space organization of their own (NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ISRO etc) or are part of such (ESA). Other nations would be just dead weight in this matter, sorry.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/18/2013 11:10 PM
See also
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50840661/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.USJNYNf4ARc which is a story about a UN study group.

Thanks for the link Lar!  :)
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Warren Platts on 02/18/2013 11:47 PM
I agree with UN as a nonstart, you'd just make the bureaucracy squared.

NATO might rub many the wrong way. There are still important people who seem to not have gotten the memo that cold war is over. Conspiracies of covert military/ASAT aspirations would be endless.

Maybe a loose coalition of the willing, countries that have a credible space organization of their own (NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ISRO etc) or are part of such (ESA). Other nations would be just dead weight in this matter, sorry.

I would argue that the USA should just go it alone, in the spirit of noblesse obige. If other countries want to kick in, that's great, but not really necessary. Reasonably, spending new monies at the rate of $1B/year would not be unreasonable, and would not break the bank, and would make great progress compared to the current spending level of ~$4M/year....
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Lar on 02/19/2013 12:05 AM
I agree with UN as a nonstart, you'd just make the bureaucracy squared.

NATO might rub many the wrong way. There are still important people who seem to not have gotten the memo that cold war is over. Conspiracies of covert military/ASAT aspirations would be endless.

Maybe a loose coalition of the willing, countries that have a credible space organization of their own (NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ISRO etc) or are part of such (ESA). Other nations would be just dead weight in this matter, sorry.

I would argue that the USA should just go it alone, in the spirit of noblesse obige. If other countries want to kick in, that's great, but not really necessary. Reasonably, spending new monies at the rate of $1B/year would not be unreasonable, and would not break the bank, and would make great progress compared to the current spending level of ~$4M/year....

And say "in exchange for this largesse benefiting the entire world, the OST is no more, we abrogate it, and our corps will exploit as they see fit... "

That'd be worth a billion a year right there. Once ISRU and the rest of the in space manufacturing base got rolling anyway...
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/19/2013 10:39 PM
Thinking of this a bit more... Why should this be the responsibility of a space agency alone? Why not a joint effort by NASA and the USAF?  The same could be said of the other agencies and the respective air forces/ air defense... Each can bring their own experts, assets and funds to a global program.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: vulture4 on 02/20/2013 05:39 PM
Thinking of this a bit more... Why should this be the responsibility of a space agency alone? Why not a joint effort by NASA and the USAF?  The same could be said of the other agencies and the respective air forces/ air defense... Each can bring their own experts, assets and funds to a global program.

The mission would carry additional funding with it. Each agency would want the entire mission. Moreover, having worked joint NASA/DOD efforts for many years, I would say that either agency could do the job but splitting it between them would result in significantly higher costs because of the need for coordination and their different ways of doing business. DOD is currently capable of intercepting satellites in LEO but NASA has more experience with deep space missions.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/20/2013 09:11 PM
Thinking of this a bit more... Why should this be the responsibility of a space agency alone? Why not a joint effort by NASA and the USAF?  The same could be said of the other agencies and the respective air forces/ air defense... Each can bring their own experts, assets and funds to a global program.

The mission would carry additional funding with it. Each agency would want the entire mission. Moreover, having worked joint NASA/DOD efforts for many years, I would say that either agency could do the job but splitting it between them would result in significantly higher costs because of the need for coordination and their different ways of doing business. DOD is currently capable of intercepting satellites in LEO but NASA has more experience with deep space missions.
Perhaps, if you are of that opinion... NASA and the USAF successfully carried out joint programs over the years, the X-Series of planes ran pretty smoothly. The USAF would have deeper pockets and expertise in high power laser interception for example...
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Blackstar on 02/20/2013 09:57 PM
When I worked the NRC NEO report a few years ago we found that there was zero interest in this subject on the USAF side. To be totally accurate, there was a single USAF officer (I think he was a major) who was interested in the subject, but he had no clout and no support. (An aside: it is not unusual to find majors and captains who embrace some goofy space ideas--see: SUSTAIN, or SBSP--that don't ultimately get funding.)

NASA was not enthusiastic about it, but that was because of two reasons. The first is that NASA was being forced to support ground-based telescopes and the AA for science at the time really didn't like doing that. It's NSF's job to support ground-based telescopes. The second is that this was an unfunded mandate from Congress and no money came along with it. I think that at least some people at NASA would embrace the NEO survey/mitigation issue if there was funding involved. But they do not want to have to carve money out of stuff they like, care about, and do well, to take on a mission that they don't view as one of their own and did not think was important.

There is a very good reason why NASA should be the lead agency on any U.S. effort on NEO detection/survey and mitigation, however: it is civilian. It is much harder to get foreign countries involved in cooperating with a U.S. government agency if it is military in nature. I would add to that the fact that NASA still has a very good reputation around the world, so it is more attractive to work with them.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/20/2013 10:16 PM
When I worked the NRC NEO report a few years ago we found that there was zero interest in this subject on the USAF side. To be totally accurate, there was a single USAF officer (I think he was a major) who was interested in the subject, but he had no clout and no support. (An aside: it is not unusual to find majors and captains who embrace some goofy space ideas--see: SUSTAIN, or SBSP--that don't ultimately get funding.)

NASA was not enthusiastic about it, but that was because of two reasons. The first is that NASA was being forced to support ground-based telescopes and the AA for science at the time really didn't like doing that. It's NSF's job to support ground-based telescopes. The second is that this was an unfunded mandate from Congress and no money came along with it. I think that at least some people at NASA would embrace the NEO survey/mitigation issue if there was funding involved. But they do not want to have to carve money out of stuff they like, care about, and do well, to take on a mission that they don't view as one of their own and did not think was important.

There is a very good reason why NASA should be the lead agency on any U.S. effort on NEO detection/survey and mitigation, however: it is civilian. It is much harder to get foreign countries involved in cooperating with a U.S. government agency if it is military in nature. I would add to that the fact that NASA still has a very good reputation around the world, so it is more attractive to work with them.
I agree NASA still had a lot of credibility outside of U.S. and taking the lead would ease relations. This really could be a State Department issue in dealing with foreign nations. From a military, side NATO seems to work pretty well with 28 member countries. Once again you nailed it with the issue of funding... I hope it doesn’t take a quasi-apocalyptic event to get the attention of world leaders....
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Blackstar on 02/20/2013 10:52 PM
I agree NASA still had a lot of credibility outside of U.S. and taking the lead would ease relations. This really could be a State Department issue in dealing with foreign nations. From a military, side NATO seems to work pretty well with 28 member countries. Once again you nailed it with the issue of funding... I hope it doesn’t take a quasi-apocalyptic event to get the attention of world leaders....

I actually think that NASA has more credibility than State.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 02/20/2013 11:50 PM
I agree NASA still had a lot of credibility outside of U.S. and taking the lead would ease relations. This really could be a State Department issue in dealing with foreign nations. From a military, side NATO seems to work pretty well with 28 member countries. Once again you nailed it with the issue of funding... I hope it doesn’t take a quasi-apocalyptic event to get the attention of world leaders....

I actually think that NASA has more credibility than State.
Yup, NASA is a great ambassador for the U.S. and has been fruitful for multiple administrations.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: spectre9 on 02/21/2013 02:34 PM
A vibrant and intelligent human race proud of their species and willing to put all resources towards the many would start working on looking out for asteroids and comets such that our existence isn't wiped out in the next few centuries while we develop the technology to become multi-planetary.

Unfortunately that isn't the human race that exists today.

Greed, corruption, power and holding money and debt over each other are the norm.

It's like the second dark age. Sometimes I really feel a sense of despair about this planet and it's people.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: CommercialSpaceFan on 02/23/2013 11:06 PM
However, I would like to pose a question - should this alter how we view the next destination for humans?  I know more than a few people who have been all about the moon, and ignored asteroids. 
 
I suppose this really depends on how one goes about trying to defend Earth.  One could try to deflect an asteroid using super sized nuclear missiles.  Alternatively one could take advantage of a robust common space transportation infrastructure encompassing cryo stages with orbital refueling as well as electric propulsion.  Nominally such transportation could support human exploration of the Moon, asteroids, and Mars.  On the very rare occasion that an asteroid is a threat, one could temporarily repurpose the transportation system to protect Earth, quite likely still employing nuclear bombs to nudge the actual asteroid.   
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Blackstar on 02/24/2013 02:05 PM
I suppose this really depends on how one goes about trying to defend Earth.  One could try to deflect an asteroid using super sized nuclear missiles.  Alternatively one could take advantage of a robust common space transportation infrastructure encompassing cryo stages with orbital refueling as well as electric propulsion. 

You could also use VASIMR, ISRU, and 3D printing!

It's amusing that no matter what the question is, you guys come up with the same answers.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: CommercialSpaceFan on 02/24/2013 10:39 PM
It's amusing that no matter what the question is, you guys come up with the same answers.

If you mean we need in space transportation, yes cryo stages and electric propulsion are the near term options.  At some point the human species needs to be able to routinely get beyond LEO. We also ought to be spending a lot more than $3B/year developing the capability.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Jim on 02/24/2013 10:49 PM
Why NASA?  It is a defense issue and not a space research issue.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Blackstar on 02/25/2013 08:36 PM
Why NASA?  It is a defense issue and not a space research issue.

Asteroid detection/survey is credibly a space research issue.

Agreed that asteroid *mitigation* is a defense issue.

Not everybody sees it that way. One issue that came up during our NEO study was that foreign governments might trust NASA more to deal with this stuff than the USAF. If USAF was going to push the asteroid out of the way, the immediate response from many governments would be "How do we know that they will not turn it into a weapon and drop it on us?"

I think I mentioned here or the other thread that nobody in the U.S. government really wants this job. Even if there was new money attached, you wouldn't necessarily expect the military to want to take it on. There's a common perception that bureaucracies always want to expand their turf, when in reality they are more interested in protecting their existing turf and often view expanding turf as a threat to their core missions.

I'm forgetting the details, but OSTP was supposed to come up with a lead agency for this mission several years ago and declined to do so.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/06/2013 10:26 PM
Why NASA?  It is a defense issue and not a space research issue.
NASA is charged with both warning /and/ mitigation of potential hazardous NEOs.

And as Blackstar mentioned, NASA is more trusted by our geopolitical rivals than the US military would be.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 03/10/2013 11:47 PM
Thought I would add a link from a concept envisioned by the great Arthur C. Clarke and its actual program:

http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/downloads/spacesurvey.pdf
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 11/07/2013 09:50 PM
Seems like the topic of meteor impacts was making the rounds at various news agencies today. The main question seemed to be, "what are we doing about it?? Of course the answer is nothing, which leaves most folks shocked...  :o
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: go4mars on 11/07/2013 10:10 PM
leaves most folks shocked...  :o
Shocks quartz grains too. :'( ::)

I just hope it doesn't take another Burckle crater for everyone to sit up and care, but it might.
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 11/07/2013 10:29 PM
leaves most folks shocked...  :o
Shocks quartz grains too. :'( ::)

I just hope it doesn't take another Burckle crater for everyone to sit up and care, but it might.
Ha ha, geophysics humor...  ;)
 
A crater might, as long it doesn’t affect the NIMBY’s... Or a healthy tsunami...  :-\
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Rocket Science on 01/20/2016 01:55 PM
U.S. 'Planetary Defense Officer' Looking For Targets, Weapons


NASA, the U.S. Energy Department and other agencies are moving beyond searching the sky for killer asteroids to finding a way to deflect them from Earth, with a new “planetary defense officer” to coordinate the work.

Early studies underway in the U.S. and Europe could lead to a 2022 test of how much a kinetic slug could deflect a small space rock that would cause major damage if it penetrated Earth’s atmosphere. And specialists at the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are using supercomputers to determine whether nuclear weapons could deflect a threatening object discovered too late for less drastic measures.

“The whole priority for the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) is to find these things as far ahead of time as we can so that we have enough time to be able to deal with them in a reasonable way,” says Lindley Johnson, who heads the office at NASA headquarters and holds the new planetary-defense title. “We are working with other government agencies to do some of the preliminary thought and planning as to what we might do faced with such a threat.”




http://aviationweek.com/space/us-planetary-defense-officer-looking-targets-weapons?NL=AW-014&Issue=AW-014_20160120_AW-014_13&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1&utm_rid=CPEN1000000910137&utm_campaign=4728&utm_medium=email&elq2=465d7d2e0ac54af1b2f3e82b7059694e
Title: Re: Planetary Defense
Post by: Star One on 08/01/2017 07:40 PM
Impending Asteroid Flyby Will be a Chance to Test NASA’s Planetary Defense Network!

Quote
This coming October, an asteroid will fly by Earth. Known as 2012 TC4, this small rock is believed to measure between 10 and 30 meters (30 and 100 feet) in size. As with most asteroids, this one is expected to sail safely past Earth without incident. This will take place on October 12th, when the asteroid will pass us at a closest estimated distance of 6,800 kilometers (4,200 miles) from Earth’s surface.

That’s certainly good news. But beyond the fact that it does not pose a threat to Earth, NASA is also planning on using the occasion to test their new detection and tracking network. As part of their Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), this network is responsible for detecting and tracking asteroids that periodically pass close to Earth, which are known as Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs)

In addition to relying on data provided by NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program. the PDCO also coordinates NEO observations conducted by National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored ground-based observatories, as well as space situational awareness facilities run by the US Air Force. Aside from finding and tracking PHOs, the PDCO is also responsible for coming up with ways of deflecting and redirecting them.

https://www.universetoday.com/136642/impending-asteroid-flyby-will-chance-test-nasas-planetary-defense-network/amp/