Earth defenseless: former astronaut seeks to stop 'city killer' asteroids

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Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, an aerospace engineer retired astronaut who flew on the Apollo 9 mission, says there is a solution in waiting for this problem: NASA can launch the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), which is a small infrared observatory, into space.

You know what this means: a bunch of Xtianist rednecks will be invited to a televised ceremony on the White House lawn where they will smash the NEOCam to atoms with various heavy implements.


I wish I could remember who said, “the one that has our name on it, we’ll never even see.” If it’s headed straight for Earth, wouldn’t an asteroid have zero apparent motion? It wouldn’t even stand out from the background until the big whooshing sound starts.

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I am not an astrophysicist, however…

I think it might have zero apparent motion from the point of view of where it’s going to hit.

But if you’re observing from anywhere other than ground zero of the future impact crater there should be some apparent motion.

This argues, IMO for a dedicated orbital platform. Or a dedicated lunar platform…

Something, something, L5, something?


The Earth is moving too, and has a gravity well, so an oncoming hit might not have zero apparent motion.


dont think so; as RickMycroft said, the earth is moving and any object thats big enough to be really dangerous would be seen at least weeks before impact. doesnt mean we could do shit about it, weeks are not enough time for any meanigful measures.

but yeah, so schweikart do has a point here, because if we could see such objects months or even years before it reaches earth, we maybe could do something.


My impression is that outward-facing satellites(while by no means assured of funding) are considered fairly safe from inane ‘controversy’.

The ones that face earthward and might say off-message things about the weather, though… If anyone has to observe the earth from orbit that’s the NRO’s job to do and not talk about.

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We’re two years into this regime. Nothing is safe from its bullheaded anti-intellectualism.

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leading scientists say different:

We are on a mobile platform. It would only be “motionless” from one point in our orbit. If it was picked up far enough out that the planet had time to move in its orbit around the sun, it’s motion would be apparent.

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Really dangerous depends a lot on the relative velocities and the angle it comes down. Fortunately most of the Earth-crossing objects are in similar orbits. (Okay, going around the Sun in the same direction.)

Nothing here will happen UNTIL a city/town is destroyed by an asteroid. Then political finger-point will commence. Nations will promise to help build an infrastructure to combat future asteroid bombardment. Funds will be allocated, lawsuits will be created to stop the siphoning of tax revenue, said-monies will be reallocated to cover other government expenses as political parties gain control of the governments through election cycles, and ABSOLUTELY nothing will really happen. The rich will get richer, the corrupt will high-five each other for pulling off another great scam on the citizens. And another batch of conspiracy theory websites/videos will be produced…and rightly so.

We’ve had/going to have some close calls already…with a few impacting Earth.


Precisely - you hit the nail on the head.

I grew up with these people. As far as it goes with asteroids, climate change, nuclear weapons, etc., hard-core fundamentalists have no interest in improving the situation. In fact, they want it to get worse. Rational, educated people (the minority) find this confusing, and can’t really understand it. But I do - they want the world to end.

Happy Holidays!


I’m not an astrophysicist, but I play Carl Sagan in my head. I helped him put gas in his Volkswagen Rabbit in Ithaca, NY, once. Of course, I watched him through the station window, trying to figure it out for several minutes first. I lost 10 pounds laughing. He was too fucking smart for machines. I was too fucking dumb for astrophysics. My wife was getting her PhD at Cornell. We used to run into war criminals at the arboretum - people who made the bomb. The place was overrun with big brains.

So we really need the Spaceforce, so Fat Donnie can save the world.


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