Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Russia to Set up Asteroid Defense Mission

I just read that Russia is developing a spacecraft to deflect the Apophis asteroid from a possible collision with Earth in the coming decades. (Fans of Stargate SG:1 might also recognize the alternate threat that a different Apophis may represent...)

I think this is cool, though it is also sad that it took backwards Russia to first start doing something about this threat. The chances of the asteroid hitting may be only 1 in 30,000 or even less, but even a 1 in 30,000 chance to have life wiped out on Earth (at least our life) seems rather too high to me. Far less likely threats seem to cause action - like fear of terrorist attacks. Like the recent failed attempt to blow up a plane in Detroit (of some interest to me since the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit is one often used by my family) - this attack has caused all sorts of overreactions, as is typical. There are tens of thousands of flights every day, and one happens on one day out of the whole year and people go crazy.

The additional security measures announced were enough to make me vow never to fly again.

But back to the Asteroid. This is a real threat, something that can wipe out life on Earth - maybe not every cell, but certainly all of us. If not this asteroid, than some other, perhaps one we have not yet detected. Despite this, we are doing nothing - we don't even have a comprehensive program to map all of the NEA (Near Earth Asteroids). It would cost a pittance, but Congress apparently has other priorities - like lining the pockets of Congress and the powerful people they represent. Maybe they figure they'll all be dead and it won't matter, or maybe they are too fat with cash and short-sighted to care. You'd think they'd want to at least protect their legacies - it is hard to have one when the Earth is a burnt-out cinder. At least with the right-wing religious wackos, they have a reason not to build such a defense system - they all WANT the world to end. So either the powers that be are all right-wing religious wackos or they are just stupid. Except they aren't stupid. So I wonder what the problem is. Any suggestions anyone?

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