Space: Plans For Defeating Space Invaders


February22, 2007: The UN has been secretly planning on how to protect the earth from space invaders. Astronomers have noted that the risk of an asteroid impact exists, and are watching one that will pass very close to earth in 2036. This rock, called Apophis, has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting earth. This 460 foot long rock, if it hit earth, could take out a major metropolitan area. More likely, it would hit a thinly populated area, and produce the same effect as a very large nuclear weapon (but without the radioactivity).

The United States has already held informal talks with the UN and Russia about what could be done if an asteroid were found to be heading straight for us. It's been agreed, off the record, that the no-nukes in space treaty would have to be dealt with. UN lawyers pointed out that some circumlocutions could be used. For example, a "save the earth" mission would not use a "nuclear weapon," but a "physics package." However, many astronomers believe that blowing an asteroid up might be as bad as letting it hit, because of all the fragments that would still be likely to strike the earth, putting more people at risk. Another option would be a "gravity tractor." In this scenario, the space craft would fly out to the asteroid, take up position near it, and let its gravity gradually, over days or weeks (depending on the size of the asteroid), change the rocks trajectory. Such a mission would cost less than half a billion dollars, and not require any treaty-breaking nuclear explosions.


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