UN Planning “Asteroid Warning Group,” Coordination of Missions to Deflect Earthbound Asteroids

"never fear, the un's on it"ReasonThe United Nations is making plans for the possibility of a doomsday asteroid.

From Scientific American:

When a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the world’s space agencies found out along with the rest of us, on Twitter and YouTube. That, says former astronaut Ed Lu, is unacceptable—and the United Nations agrees. Last week the General Assembly approved a set of measures that Lu and other astronauts have recommended to protect the planet from the dangers of rogue asteroids. 

The U.N. plans to set up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” for member nations to share information about potentially hazardous space rocks. If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat to Earth, the U.N.’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course.  

When NASA’s asteroid watch Twitter feed was shut down for the partial government shutdown, some people mistook it for an actual asteroid watch capability going down. NASA has no explicit responsibility to deflect asteroids headed for earth.

Lu, Scientific American notes, is the founder of a non-profit, the B612 Foundation, which is working on a privately funded infrared telescope to look for large Earth-bound asteroids.

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  • ||

    I'm here to chew bubblegum and head off any Armageddon references. And I'm all out of bubblegum.

  • ||

    You already failed

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Where's my gods damned hat-tip?!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Where's my gods damned hat-tip?!

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Where's your other gods damned head?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Basically, all the worst parts of the Bible.

  • ||

    How about oblique Armageddon references?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    WE WIN GRACIE!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    I don't want to miss a thing.

  • Lonely Stalker||

    NASA has no explicit responsibility to deflect asteroids headed for earth.

    It does not have the means to do so either.

    I wonder how large the probability is of an asteroid kicking off an impromptu nuclear exchange between nations with launch-on-warning capability.

  • AlexInCT||

    "NASA has no explicit responsibility to deflect asteroids headed for earth."
    \
    What about hemorrhoids circling Uranus?

    :)

  • Gray Ghost||

    Back in the bad old days? I imagine the risk was non-trivial, especially when an impact looked like the Russian videos of the Chelyabinsk meteor.

    Damned thing looked for all the world like a Minuteman RV coming in, complete with blinding airburst light.

    It's a cute little planning group, considering the UN'll need either Russia or the U.S. to actually push aside whatever rock they end up finding.

  • Rasilio||

    Their first action will be to issue a sternly worded letter to any asteroids found to be in objectionable orbits

  • widget||

    NASA has no explicit responsibility to deflect asteroids headed for earth.

    At this point in time, NASA's implicit responsibility is to employ top-notch scientists to do "whatever" so they don't have to get their hands dirty working in private industry.

  • William of Purple||

    Who will save us from Comet Ison?

  • OldMexican||

    UN Planning "Asteroid Warning Group," Coordination of Missions to Deflect Earthbound Asteroids


    And they will call it Project Icarus and be the subject for a very bad movie...

  • OldMexican||

    If astronomers detect an asteroid that poses a threat to Earth, the U.N.'s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will help coordinate a mission to launch a spacecraft to slam into the object and deflect it from its collision course.


    Not before letting the unfortunate souls manning the spacecraft to say their goodbyes to their loved ones just minutes before the spectacular collision...

  • widget||

    This spacecraft will be unmanned and launched by roughnecks in North Dakota. There's a movie plot in this. The asteroid is first noticed by a 12 yo in Japan who got a telescope for his 9th birthday. He's spent 3 years mapping one tiny segment of the night sky. He first noticed the blip when he was 11 and alerted officials. No one pays attention. That is, no one but an oil-drilling contractor's son in Houston, TX who told his dad about this and got nothing but a sermon. But his younger sister had faith in her brother and encouraged him to keep going. When the dad was layed off from his position in Texas he moved the family to North Dakota. In North Dakota, the oil-driller's son meets the grandson of a cold-war defense contractor. It turns out that North Dakota is still filled with ICBM silos, many of them barely guarded. The boy befriends the son of a roughneck at school. The roughneck, at first, thinks this is all crazy, but his Japanese wife knows the family of the boy with the telescope and gives him shit for being so dismissive. The grandfather still knows how to code the trajectory of the ICBM. Roughnecks storm the silo and the world is saved.

  • Russell||

    Only too late Ed Lu realize that the charming little prince aboard Asteroid B6/12 was in reality a kamekaze pilot guiding the Hapsburg death star to its fatal rensezvous with Mountain View

  • Gray Ghost||

    Why 'Hapsburg' specifically, Doc? I'm sure there's a sufficiently esoteric reason; I just can't think of it (or readily Google it) offhand.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    This spacecraft will be unmanned and launched by roughnecks in North Dakota.

    Rasczak's roughnecks?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    This might actually be a productive use of the UN if we could only divert 100% of their funding to it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Is Bruce Willis still alive? Yes? Than stop bothering me with trivial matters completely within our control.

  • yonemoto||

    god damn it Reason, no mention of the private org B612 that this is displacing? What the hell are we paying you for??

    http://b612foundation.org/

  • ||

    This isn't displacing B612. I'm fairly certain that B612 wants as much international cooperation as can be mustered.

  • ||

    In fact, here they are lauding the UN move on twitter:

    http://goo.gl/Wxyy2c

  • AlexInCT||

    Somebody there has been watching way too much Armageddon....

    Know what I am saying?

  • Agammamon||

    "The U.N. plans to set up an “International Asteroid Warning Group” for member nations to share information about potentially hazardous space rocks."

    Wait, don't we *already* have a network setup for information sharing between atronomers? Isn't called Twitter and YouTube?

    Do these people not understand that most of astronomy is not government funded dudes looking through cameras hooked to huge telescopes on mountain tops but guys looking through a scope on their rooftops?

    That maybe, instead of making this a 'big government' project, we could leverage the millions of small-time atronomers already in existence?

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