Telescope aims to head off asteroids' impact on Earth
The nonprofit B612 Foundation announced plans to raise money to build an infrared space telescope that would orbit the sun.
June 29th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Telescope aims to head off asteroids' impact on Earth

With the space shuttle program over and private companies launching their own spaceships, it’s clear that nongovernment organizations are making a stir in America’s space race.

Now the private sector is getting into the space telescope business, too. The first official entrant into this arena wants humanity to locate and avoid asteroids, helping us dodge the fate of the dinosaurs.

The nonprofit B612 Foundation announced Thursday plans to raise money to build an infrared space telescope that would go around the sun, with an orbit similar to that of Venus. It would be about 170 million miles from Earth at its farthest.

The goal: Find and track asteroids with enough accuracy to see if they would collide with Earth in the next century or so. It’s looking for about half a million uncharted asteroids. The plan is to launch in 2017 and operate for 5½ years.

“What we’re really talking is affecting human evolution, by reshaping the solar system ever so slightly,” Rusty Schweickart, chairman emeritus of B612 and an astronaut with NASA’s Apollo 9 mission, told reporters at an advance press event Wednesday at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. “We’re literally beginning to affect and change the solar system to enhance human survival. That’s the capability of which this is a central part.”

Sounds cool, but it’s still in the fund-raising stage. Representatives from B612 declined to discuss the details of the funding situation for the space telescope mission, called Sentinel, but told reporters they were looking to raise a few hundred million dollars.

The announcement joins a wave of privately funded space milestones. Just last month, the company SpaceX launched a successful mission to the International Space Station, making it the first private company to do so. Also in May, Virgin Galactic got clearance from U.S. regulators to test its suborbital tourism craft SpaceShipTwo. And several other companies also are working on spacecraft.

Sentinel would locate and map asteroids, including determining their size. Ground-based telescopes would follow up, making further analyses about composition and other details. Specifically, the telescope would aim to find 90% of asteroids bigger than 140 meters (about 460 feet).

The organization is working with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which also collaborated with the teams that developed the Spitzer and Kepler telescopes.

The data from the mission will be made available to the scientific community, B612 representatives said, and the organization will not try to monetize the data. B612 said it has not asked for funding from NASA.

The B612 Foundation, which sounds like a vitamin but actually pays homage to the home asteroid in the novella “The Little Prince,” started 11 years.

“We all came together because asteroids were being found, but no one knew anything about what happens if they had our address on it,” Schweickart said.

Today, scientists are aware of three ways to deflect an asteroid, said Ed Lu, chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation.

One is kinetic impact, or running into it with a spacecraft. Another is a nuclear standoff. The third, called a “gravity tractor,” would involve sending a spacecraft to hover near an asteroid and throw it off course through the force of gravity. In practice, a gravity tractor would probably be used in combination with a kinetic impact, Lu said.

In the first month of operation, Sentinel would have found more asteroids than have been found in all of human history by other telescopes combined, Schweickart said.

“That will be the seminal moment in human history, which goes from civilization that is subject to the threat all civilizations that live in planetary systems have this threat to ones that have graduated and passed the test that says: You can now protect your home planet," Lu said.

Lu, also a former NASA astronaut, added, “We are finally at the point where we are capable of passing the test. The question is, will we?”

Whether the money will be raised also remains to be seen.

Related: Private space travel: A new era begins?

Related: Is Dream Chaser the new space shuttle?

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • News
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. acne treatment

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    April 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  2. $tillRun!n1@Ya.Com

    You just need a 5-hour energy thats all...funny...you wont see anybody important saying there ready to go...I sure as hell aint ready...plus i got kids...how in gods name can you explain that scenerio to a kid..."oh by the way you see that ball of fire in the sky...ya were all phucked!!!"...if it does happen...well...I.m going out like Bruce Willis..."Were with you Grace"....BOOOOOOOOM!!!!!.

    July 6, 2012 at 6:55 am |
  3. dlongbeach

    I don't know about you, but I'm ready. So tired of waking up, working, sleeping, waking up, working, sleeping, waking up... If the world does end, I hope it's this year. And I hope the view is spectacular.

    July 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chris

      That'sso wierd I feel like I wrote that! I feel the exact same way! I'm ready! and to be honest I think it would be a great honour to be one of the last of mankind.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:23 am |
      • dlongbeach

        I agree 100% It would be spectacular. It may sound morbid, but it would be both scary and amazing. And a honour!

        July 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
      • Anon

        I've often said that if a meteor is going to hit the Earth, I want to be at ground zero. I couldn't agree more with the original post. I've had an OK life. Could have been better but could have been worse. I've had some great moments and done many amazing things. But now mainly I feel like I have been there and done that. Nothing is new and fresh anymore, and lifes burdons have become oppressive. So bring it on. I am ready.

        July 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • dlongbeach

        Well said, Anon. Ground zero for sure.Until that times comes, have a great day.

        July 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
      • Anon

        I think about killing myself everyday. It is my problem and I don't burdon the taxpayers with it. I have paid more taxes than the evaerge person. I live with a very small footprint. I try to minimize my driving, often ride my bike instead of driving, and produce most of my electricity to run my home. I have made significant engineering advancements to cancer therapy and other areas, so I feel like I have made the world a better place. While I have devoted my life to improving the world, geedy, selfish, lazy people have made the world worse every year. My optimizm has faded and I just don't see any hope for mankind. We are on an unsustainable path, and I don't see it ever changing. The average person easily accepts lies as facts if it means they don't have to change. So Dena, what have you done to make the world better off because of your existence?

        July 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • you have lost yourself

      You have lost yourself. If your life had meaning you wouldn't feel that way and you would fight for life.

      July 12, 2012 at 10:57 am |
      • you have lost yourself

        This society we live in emphasizes all the WRONG things and the WRONG reasons.

        We don't have daredevils and role models any more, we have idiotic reality TV stars that people worship. Why?

        Our government is destroying our potential dreams by sapping the space program. How many minds would be lifted with the goals of space in mind? How many new chemists, physicists, astrologers, scientists, mathematicians would come to be? Instead........... we have idiots wearing baggy pants trying to be "cool".

        We work ourselves to the bone, get minimal vacation "self/life time" (meanwhile Europeans take 1-2 months off a year). We don't even have time to eat properly so we just get something fast on the go. Hello mcdonalds, and hello obesity.

        Instead of developing energy independence and redirecting military funds towards education, infrastructure, and the future, politicians bicker each other like children in the sand box "he did it! no he started it! wahhhh" and thrust our country into war over and over and over again.

        Homeless people starve, but violent murdering raping prisoners get 3 squares a day and a roof over their head. HUH?

        Everything is wrong. Everything needs to be fixed.

        July 12, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  4. PJ

    what we should do is not fear it but become knowledgeable in a way to control its movement and rape it for its minerals and leave it on the moon

    July 2, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  5. shafiqifs

    This all is conjecture based on physics which is fundamentally wrong. The main-stream pardigm of physics is openly challenged through following Open Challenge
    OPEN CHALLENGE

    The article ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’ by Albert Einstein is based on trickeries is proved beyond any doubt whatsoever in the articles (1). ‘Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe’ published in the peer-reviewed journal namely Indian Journal of Science & Technology (March 2012 issue) available on http://www.indjst.org (2) ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies By Albert Einstein is Based on Trickeries’ (Open letter to Professors, Teachers, Researchers and Students of Physics) published in peer-reviewed journal Elixir Online Journal (February 2012 issue) available on http://www.elixirjournal.org. The Voigt transformation was simply a mathematical possibility which was changed by Lorentz by introducing the Lorentz factor but the Lorentz factor is simply a manipulation. Thus nature and forces in nature were trivialized and made subservient to mathematics in the theories of relativity, Big Bang Theory, Space-time concept and in all physical sciences which are directly or indirectly based on the ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’. It is unfortunate for humanity that exposing these trickeries took more than one hundred years.

    I openly challenge all the professors, researchers & teachers of physics/philosophy of physics to come forward & show me where I am wrong or else they have to accept that they are teaching incorrect physics based on ‘trickeries’.

    My challenge may not be treated as a publicity stunt but I sincerely wish that truth should prevail on this planet and am expecting identical response from all truth loving people/intellectuals. I do understand that it is hard for mainstream physicists to reconcile with the alternative philosophy; though actual and factual; as almost all the living physicists and researchers are borne, brought up and taught physics which is fundamentally incorrect. Their livelihood is based on the physics which has been adopted as the result of fraud, but these material interests should never be a stumbling block to acknowledge the reality, which to my understanding is the essence of scientific thinking and honest living for the betterment of entire human society.

    I have not an iota of doubt that sooner or later the truth will prevail, but it would be in the interest of humanity that ‘truth’ is accepted now so that humanity comes out of clutches of materialism which in itself is naked atheism.

    Mohammad Shafiq Khan,
    (M.Sc. Physics)

    July 2, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • Dougman

      Why bother? You'll just ignore whatever logical answer they'd give, and retort with some half-baked pesudo-science theory of your own. I notice you PICK AND CHOOSE whatever suits your agenda. You'll fiddle with semantics and obsolete theories with lots of published recognition, but proven wrong with obscure newer research. Not worth it.

      July 2, 2012 at 2:42 am |
      • jim

        Ohh...come now Dougman, be a sport and play! It's far more fun than taking the ball and going home! :)

        July 2, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • jim

      I accpet your challenge, sir. As an engineer, I would like to respond with the following:
      To your statement on the teaching of fraudulent materials, I would like to first make a distinction based the development of scientific knowledge through observation. We (humans) are limited in what we can learn by what we can observe and interpret. For example, it would be unfathomable to ague against the notion of gravity and how it affects moving bodies here on earth, or with respect to large heavenly bodies (Earh and Moon, Sun and Planets, etc). The equations, while not accurate to an infintesibly small fraction, do provide a strong tool for approximation. So much so that we use these equations to launch rockets, fly planes, make better boats, ever taller steel buildings, and so on. The use of the mathmatics is by no way a means to control nature, that is an impossibility. It does give a means to improve our success as a species, however one might measure that success.
      Regarding Einstein; it is easy to look at this man and think to oneself, "he was a genius," and such a statement would be correct if only in one frame of context. Specifically, during his time (through WWII working with Oppenheimer) he and a very small group of his peers, helped expand what we understand about nuclear and quantum physics. Was he right about everything? No, probably not. But one cannot deny that the man had incredible insight into physical phenomina that very few other people could even approach let alone understand. I think it safer to remeber that no one person knows everything, and it is best to take what anyone says with "a grain of salt". Even what we think we "know" today may turn out to be suplanted tomorrow given new information. Take for instance, dark matter. Astrophysics would like to answer the mysteries of strange, unexplainable phenomina with the presence of this mystery material. How do we do that? We can't see it, can't measure it, but assume it to be responsible for things we don't understand. I see it as a mere proxy for coving our ignorance of things which exist beyond our capacity to rationalize. We put some instrument in the sky and measure space, see holes in the information, and assume the "nothing" to be something of significance. When it is probably just nothing at all.
      With regards to mathmatics, one must remember that all mathmatics is based around a progression of seemingly logical assumptions. I say seemingly because, if we get the logic wrong, the mathmatics becomes wrong, or undefinable, or inexplainable. But how often does that really happen? I can use spacial differential calculus to define a guassian field, and then build that field, and it would work as expected not based on the mathmatics, but based on physical phenomina. The mathmatics in this instance only serves to define the space, not the phenomia (or lack thereof as with my example).
      I think you take things too seriously, my good friend.

      July 2, 2012 at 2:53 am |
      • shafiqifs

        My dear if you joking; then it is O.K. If you are serious then I am sorry that you neither know how to accept the challenge nor you know what you are supposed to do after accepting the challenge and not to the accepting the scientific challenge. Accepting the challenge & writing a few lines on the discussion does not solve your problem. You have to produce a rebuttal of the articles on the basis of which the Open Challenge has been put forward and get it published in a peer-reviewed journal. The Open Challenge means that you can take the help of all the physicists of the world. Since you have accepted the challenge let you take the help of all the physicists of the world and produce the rebuttal. As & when you do it send me a mail on shafiqifs@gmail.com.

        July 4, 2012 at 11:25 am |
      • Caihlyn

        Stop feeding trolls.

        Shaf has a blog on all this "trickery" in which he states, "the secret of state of existence of physical universe being in the nature of light/radiation."

        Huh?

        It's time to close the Open Challenge.

        July 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Dude

      Nice hat. What brand of foil do you prefer?

      July 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  6. Rod C. Venger

    The Earth can't "dodge asteroids". Can't anyone put forth a simple, factual statement in a headline anymore? Nor are we "reshaping the solar system, ever so slightly". The shape remains the same. The fact that we add bits of trash to it, affects us not at all. The idea that we can affect the trajectory of an asteroid enough to cause a sure-hit to become a near-miss is conjecture only. It's an idea, and a good one, with no evidence to back it up. Further, even if we changed it once, there's no guarantee that on the next orbit it wouldn't hit us anyway.

    If aliens were to find us, study us, they'd likely conclude we're a disease...a plague upon the universe. They'd be wise to innoculate the universe against us.

    July 2, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • chubzilla

      Or they could be amazed at our progress over the past 100 years. That we harnessed the power of the sun and had the restraint to only use it as weapon twice. Have attempted to improve our society with education and medicine and constantly trying to improve ourselves. Achieved spaceflight, developed high speed computing, installed worldwide infrastructures.... And we could have done it way better than their civilization. Or maybe we're a planet full of jerks.

      July 2, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  7. larry

    this is a mute point seeing as how the world ends in december

    July 2, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Rocinante

      Ironically it will be an asteroid that does us.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  8. Hadenuffyet

    It's always the one you don't see that gets you...

    July 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  9. Andy

    Interesting...from the looks at the picture, it looks like they plan on placing it near the L3 lagrangian point. I thought it was very difficult to put a satellite there due to gravity influence from other celestial bodies?

    July 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      But once you do get it in place, it's very stable, which is the idea. It'll bounce around a bit within the sphere of influence between the Earth and Moon but overall stay in one place in an orbit relative to the earth and moon both.

      July 2, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  10. dc

    One thing that concerns me is we are rapidly approaching the day when some nation will be able to steer an asteroid at some enemy and label it as a natural disaster. If not an asteroid they could sit on the moon and launch rocks. They would hit the earth at 25,000 mph

    The incoming rock(s) would hit with the force of a nuclear weapon. The only way to tell the difference would be the lack of radiation. By then it might be too late; many would jump to the conclusion it was a nuke and the rockets would fly.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • SciFi Reader

      Pick up a copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein. He predicted such a scenario back in 1966. Doesn't take much to get them off the moon but they land on earth with a big bang...

      July 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
      • Dude

        That was my first thought as well. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a great book on so many levels.

        Larry Niven uses the concept in Footfall. Although, it is an alien species that moves the asteroid.

        Niven's rule "Anything that can be done in space can be used as a weapon."

        July 2, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • tommy o

      wouldn't it be much easier to just use a nuke?

      July 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
      • dc

        The nation launching rocks off the moon or steering an asteroid at an enemy might not what it known that this was a deliberate act. If it is thought to be a natural disaster there would be no retaliation.

        July 1, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
      • Rod C. Venger

        What good does a nuke do? You turn a bullet into a shotshell, and the total mass hitting the earth is the same, less the few that burn up in the atmosphere. People fail to realize the true size of some asteroids. A 100 mile wide rock, hitting the Earth with it's leading edge, would still have it's trailing edge in space! Depending on the angle of impact, the collision could be from 1mph to 50,000 mph, perhaps greater if for some reason the rock was moving at greater than orbital speeds. At 1mph, the rock would nudge the Earth and possibly just become an appendage of it. At 50,000 mph, that leading edge would burrow in while the trailing edge kept pushing forward. It'd crack a continent or vaporize an ocean. And a nuke would just irradiate part of it.

        July 2, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • jim

      what differnece would it make if it was a nuke, asteroid, or a projectile shot at the earth from the moon at 25,000 km/h (or whatever). The result is pretty much the same; large amounts of debris in the sky the rest of us would get to suffer through.

      July 2, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  11. Guest

    If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge an asteroid

    July 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  12. Harvey Wallbanger

    One disadvantage of earth based systems is we would never see an asteroid approaching from the inner solar system. We are blind sighted by the sun. A survey telescope in solar orbit would help fill that gap

    July 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  13. Realisticman

    I would love to believe that we could make some device to destroy an incoming meteor, but because of all the mistrust of the worlds' nations it will not be built. Because they would believe it would be used on them.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Harvey Wallbanger

      The proposed gravity tractor would not be a threat to any nation. Its drawback is that the incoming object would have to be detected years, if not decades before the impact. Also the tractor does not even exist on paper, thus there would be a long R and D period before it could be launched.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
      • Scott Allen

        Not to mention the technology doesn't yet exist. Ignore R&D – you can't just say, let's invent a gravity gizmo when you don't have the base theory TESTED to begin with.

        July 2, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  14. ash

    maybe you should learn how to spell sacrifice and interested before you say that people who are educated are brain washed –thanks for restoring my belief that the world is this way because ignorand bafoons are taken seriously..opps I'm sorry too big a word for your soimple mind curt

    July 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • PullTheLogOut

      What is a "soimple"?

      July 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • GrassHopper

      You do use big words. "ignorand" is so big, it is not in the dictionary. I bow to your supremacy.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • 4thGradeTeacher

      "maybe" should be capitalized. Brainwashed is one word, not "brain washed". The hyphen is not appropriate, just start a new sentence. "washed -thanks" should be "brainwashed. Thanks". An ellipsis is three periods (...) not two(..). Not really an appropriate use of ellipsis anyway. Just end the sentence and start a new sentence with Oops. And oops is not spelled "opps". The last sentence needs some punctuation. Try "Oops, I'm sorry, too big of a word for your simple mind Curt". Notice that Curt is capitalized. "ignorand" and "soimple" were already pointed out. There is more, but I don't want to overwhelm you.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
      • 4th Grade Student

        It appears as though you're fond of the comma splice. There are at least two examples in your writing, "word, not," and "appropriate, just." If you feel compelled to join these thoughts, I recommend the use of a semicolon. Otherwise, if there is no urgent need to connect these independent clauses, just start a new sentence. Please take not that the punctuation is always placed inside the closing quotation mark.

        July 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
      • 4th Grade Student

        * s/b note.

        I need an editor!

        July 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
      • 4thGradeTeacher

        Oh the irony of the irony. Well, at least I have commas and periods. A+ to the 4th grade student. I'm actually an electrical engineer, not a 4th grade teacher. I'm a better engineer than I am a writer. Still, I wouldn't swap my ability to write with Ash's.

        July 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
      • BermudaTriangle

        Sorry 4thGradeStudent; but, you've certainly lived up to your pseudonym. 4thGradeTeacher used those commas appropriately and did not need to be corrected. His/Her use of a period after his quotation was inappropriate.

        July 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  15. jemzinthekop

    According to most of what I have read on these blogs from CNN readers (term used very loosely), this telescope is useless because science has done nothing for civilization ever and invisible men & talking snakes are going to rescue us in the event a big rock tries to hit our flat planet that the sun revolves around.

    July 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Sam I. Am

      Ahh, yes... but the giant rocks will not come to this earth-plane unless the invisible man sends them toward us for listening to the talking snake too much! So it's all good! :)

      July 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  16. Dann DFW

    I understand how you can deflect an asteroid, but how does a planet dodge one?

    July 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  17. Mrs. Ogga

    25 comments, and not one person noticed that the word "asteroid" was spelled incorrectly in the headline.

    July 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • RSS

      So helpful. Thanks.

      July 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • KneeGrow Please

      you want a cookie?

      July 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  18. 1st Sgt-TopKick

    Glad to see some space professionals interested in funding and tracking potential incoming asteroid threats. If anyone thinks they have a problem raising $$$ for the telescope and launch, wait until something is actually detected heading this way. The same groups that accept / deny global warming (Democrats vs Republicans / scientists vs politicians / environmentalists vs industrialists, etc.) will argue fiercely from each of their respective POV until it's physically impossible to avoid collision. Mankind has a TERRIBLE record of doing anything about public problems until AFTER a disaster. Why do you think *** NO *** rockets, lasers gravity tractors or other equipment has been tested to date, but instead a USN rail-gun is in development for the "next war"? I guess they plan to use it, the littoral combat ships, and the next submarines against individual suicide terrorists who don't own aircraft carriers, cruisers or manned bombers but simply put fertilizer and diesel fuel in trucks to make effective IED's.

    Sentinel is a great idea. It'll warn us all just in time to have last suppers while the powers with the control, money and resources won't actually agree towards mounting any defensive capability until it's too late. But, hey? What ever made us think that man (Americans) would STILL be going to / from the moon or have colonized it by 2012 once we got started in 1969? Who's brilliant idea was it to interrupt America's ability to get people to the ISS until / unless the private sector came up with it's own technology to do so and what was the reason given in justification?

    July 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  19. viaquest

    how funny, so we see an asteroid that is going to hit Earth in 4 years ,.. then what? " ok everyone off and push".. just a little to the left..

    July 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • GardenGrl

      I was wondering about that too. It's not like we can shoot anything out in space with enough force to do more than land on an object, so what do you do? Get the harmonic convergence people on board and yoga our way off to the side?!

      July 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Dude

      Perhaps they will use one of the methods discussed in the article above to alter its trajectory slightly.

      If we have several years, then a few inches a month could make all the difference.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Fritz

      4 years??? How big are we talking? If it's anything more that a mile in diameter, we are toast!

      July 2, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  20. Wobbles

    No need to fend off asteroids–Earth needs a reboot. God, seeing the error of His ways, will do a better job next time around.

    "Dang–tried oceans full of fish, then dinosaurs, then large, large mammals and now humans. I am beginning to think this thing will never work."

    July 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  21. Curt

    Why would the general population want to try to fend off asteroids when they have no interest in fending off Global Climate Change? It seems to me that both of these problems are within our abilities to solve, are expensive to implement, and require sacrafice. I'm interested in solving these problems, but I am not intesested in having to first debate the brainwashed masses that don't operate from a scientific base. If the profits of the large pollution contributing industries are more important that the quality of life for future generations, then I don't care if an asteroid hits this planet. Hitting the reset button might leave the planet in a better place a million years from now.

    July 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • nopenotbuyingit

      since global warming is a fabrication why should we waste money on it?

      July 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
      • Curt

        Please read my message. I said "I am not intesested in having to first debate the brainwashed masses that don't operate from a scientific base".

        July 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • annon

        Have you been watching the news? Much of the US has been/is in record high temperatures and summer just began. In NY, we had numerous 80 degree days in January and February. They had more snow from 1 storm in AZ than we had all winter. And you're telling me that Climate Change doesn't exist? You're still in denial? Let's add in all the flooding along the Mississippi River and the drought in TX last year. Shall I go on? Your ignorance astounds me.

        July 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • Les Too

        Correction. It is not global "warming". That term is not valid. The process we are undergoing is global "climate change" which accurately describes the process. Disbelief or belief will not the facts in the least. Large bodies striking the Earth are not myths or imagination. It happens. The last major strike occurred in 1917 C.E. in Siberia. It will happen again.

        My main concern about this story is that the folks planning this telescope are asking for many dollars and refuse to be transparent about their finances. That is a giant red flag in anyone's book. Sounds like an investor scam to me.

        July 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
      • Les Too

        "Disbelief or belief will not the facts in the least" should read "Disbelief or belief will not CHANGE the facts in the least." Sorry.

        July 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
      • Bruce Banning

        We don't need to have a climate change debate here. We have scientists for that.

        July 1, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Dud

      Curt, they just do not get it , do they? Well, at least I read it. I agree. hahahahaha. Wow.

      July 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  22. Travis

    How can we receive data from 170 million miles away. But I drop a cell phone call depending on what side of the bed I'm sitting on?

    July 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Lagos

      Because you require latency that's not prohibitive enough to make conversation uncomfortable and are paying roughly 1/100,000,000th of the cost of said technology.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Dude

      Your comment needs to be close captioned for the humor impaired.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  23. Xavier

    It's all futile really I mean something is bound to get us sooner or later. The human race has the potential to be around for a long time but do you reallysee us being around forever in any shape or form? Heck, even the universe is going to end one day and there will be no life whatsoever that we know of that could survive that. I say we should do what we've been doing for past thousands and just let the chips fall were they may...

    July 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Alex

      Where would we be if everyone held such defeatist ideologies?

      July 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
      • Xavier

        Doesn't matter where we would be point is is that we can not defeat nature or time. Our species is intelligent enough to adapt to nature and to fight against it to a certain extent, but we will never overcome it. We weren't always here and there will be a day when we are not here be it a 100 years from now of a trillion. It's inevitable.

        July 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Dude

      So, I should stop taking the medication that controls high blood pressure, since I am going to die some day anyway?

      Why fix the breaks on my car, since I am going to fie some day anyway?

      Potentially making the difference between humans going extinct in 2137 and existing long enough to colonize Mars and the asteroid belt seems worth while.

      If we are able to colonize the solar system, that might buy us enough time to develop some form of hyperspace / warp drive / lint drive that will get us to nearby planets. There is the potential to increase our species existence for a thousand years to millions of years.

      Yeah, I'd say that's worth it.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
      • Bruce Banning

        everyone calm down. Lets all just take a deep breath and watch Armageddon.

        July 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
      • Scott Allen

        "Lint" drive? Line up deep belly button people ( you know who you are), we're going to develop a Lint drive and you are going to power it! (please don't let misunderstanding or ignorance get it the way of my humor)

        July 2, 2012 at 12:23 am |
      • Dude

        If you wash a pair of pants, as soon as you take it out of the drier, what's there? Lint. How? It's THAT fast.

        Every SciFi uses some form of convenience drive to explain traveling faster than light. Lint drive was used in the animated version of "The Tick".

        July 2, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  24. cpc65

    That's right. No stinking asteroid is going to mess up our Earth. It's OUR job to do that!

    July 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • TechIsReady

      Yeah!

      July 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  25. cyg

    Telescopes track – they do nothing to stop or alter the course of rock. They will be a nice tool to tell everyone they are about to be a grease spot before we can invent anything that would save them. (Especially since the oil and gas industry will tell you there is no saving mankind without their help).

    July 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • SB

      Actually the article touches on at least three methods that people agree would likely word to deflect an asteroid. You can also read up on the subject from other sources. Plenty of information out there so there's really no need to make things up.

      The key point of course is early warning. The sooner you know about a threat the better. As it stands, many of the close passes and impacts that occur aren't detected until they're imminent; a month or less, sometimes only a day before they happen. The point of a telescope dedicated to early detection is to change that.

      July 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
      • SB

        word=work. My kingdom for an edit button.

        July 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  26. SB

    Sentinel is an excellent idea, even if the amateur astronomer in me is a little jealous of a space telescope finding all those rocks. Ah, well. Still plenty of comets and exoplanets to go around!

    July 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  27. Rob

    I think we should begin building a large orbiting space station that has a huge laser beam to obliterate any incoming asteroids. We can call it a "Death Star" or something to that effect as we declare war on the Stars, and if we should happen to have more than one we can call them Star Wars...

    July 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • SB

      Well, huge laser beams that "obliterate" enormous, massive chunks of iron is strictly a Hollywood image. In the real world a laser would deflect the asteroid's path over time, quite gently in comparison to what Star Wars has taught you.

      July 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  28. Mike

    Needed but how do we actually deflect an asteroid?

    July 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • SB

      That is addressed in the article, or at least touched on.

      July 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Bud

      Simple. We PUSH it!

      July 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • bthorn64@suddenlink.net

      If we have enough time, there are theoretically many ways to alter an asteroid's orbit (even the old standby - use nukes - is being looked at again as possible after a decade or so of 'that won't work' dismissal). The more lead time you have, the easier it is. That's why we need an accurate and complete asteroid census as soon as possible.Humanity gets an accurate census of potentially threatening asteroids, and industry gets a map to all the mineral-rich asteroids within easy reach.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Dude

      We can shrink them with Preparation-A.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  29. Allen N Wollscheidt

    The Sentinel Project may be worthwhile - but the rest of it is just streetcars.

    July 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • veggiedude

      A streetcar named desire, perhaps, but we need it.

      July 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

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