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John Batchelor “Hotel Mars,” Wednesday, 3-7-12 March 8, 2012

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John Batchelor “Hotel Mars,” Wednesday, 3-7-12


John Batchelor, Rusty Schweickart, DrSpace

Guests:  John Batchelor, Rusty Schweickart, DrSpace.  Topics: Planetary Defense, asteroid impact, Asteroid 2011AG5.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  This program is archived on The Space Show website, podcasting, and blog sites with permission from John Batchelor. Please visit the John Batchelor Show website for more information about this fine program, www.johnbatchelorshow.com. The topics in this 11 minute plus segment focused on the asteroid 2011AG5, asteroid impacts, the means to intervene to deflect an incoming asteroid threat as well as understanding the force of impact for an asteroid the size of 2011AG5.  During the discussion, we discussed the odds of the asteroid hitting theUS.  Rusty explained the Keyhole and its significance for an asteroid that may be approaching Earth.  Rusty also gave us critical dates to watch as more refined observational information becomes available for 2011AG5.  Finally, we talked about technologies that are available now to deal with an incoming asteroid such as a gravity tractor.  Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to contact either John or Rusty, send your note to me and I will forward it to you.


1. Rick Kwan - March 12, 2012

The Apophis keyhole issue is discussed at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/
In particular, look at the entry for 2008-Jul-10.

2. Rick Kwan - March 12, 2012

I first learned about the keyhole concept when Apophis (2004 MN4) was a potential danger. The problem was, you don’t know in advance where the keyhole is; you know it after the asteroid passes through it or not. And yet, the asteroid is only dangerous if it passes through it. You can estimate its size and know it’s rough location. But now that I think about the effects of solar wind (variable) and radiation (I assume relatively constant), the keyhole still can have fuzzy boundaries.

Terry in Corpus Christi - March 12, 2012

We really need to find a way to put probes on the asteroids we think might be problems. Constant tracking is needed to give us the maximum time to prepare a defense.

Rick Kwan - March 12, 2012

The Planetary Society hosted a competition for an Apophis “tagger” mission. The Foresight mission design won; it was designed by a joint team from SpaceWorks Engineering and SpaceDev (now part of Sierra Nevada). They set the total mission cost at: $137.2 million.
I’m sure this could be adapted to other asteroids.

Another concept that occurs to me is to simply launch observer spacecraft out of the plane of the ecliptic. That is, have a couple of spacecraft similar to WISE that go into solar orbit, but perhaps only inclined 30 degrees out of the plane in an otherwise Earth-like orbit. (In fact, I’d probably launch them 3 months apart so that one is far from Earth while the other is coming near.) By combining their data with near-Earth observations, we should get much better triangulation and position data on objects approaching and leaving Earth vicinity. Of course, this could also be used for scanning the solar system on our side of the Sun to refine the trajectories of objects we already know about.

Terry in Corpus Christi - March 12, 2012

Something like Apophis “tagger” mission. looks like money well spent.

3. Terry in Corpus Christi - March 9, 2012

It was an interesting discussion of asteroids. The explanation of the keyhole and its importance was new information to me. I learned a lot in a short amount of time. I appreciate John Batchelor having this program.

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