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"Planetary Asteroid Defense Study: Assessing And Responding To The Natural Space Debris Threat "
Planetary Asteroid Defense Study: Assessing And Responding To The Natural Space Debris Threat
Author:
Angelia Holliday
Disclaimer
The views expressed in this academic research paper are those of the authors and
do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Government or the Department of
Defense..iii
Preface
Interest in developing an asteroid defense system, intensified by the impact of
comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994, continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Many major US publications such as Newsweek, Time, Ad Astra, Technology Review,
Nature and even The Economist have run extensive articles on the subject. However, the
interest goes well beyond the United States and the press. Russia, Italy, and Australia
have recently hosted conferences on the asteroid threat and the United Nations will host
one of its own in April of this year.
Because of public interest, and at the urging of scientists and astronomers, the US
Congress commissioned the Spaceguard survey to examine the asteroid threat. Though
no major decisions were made as a result of the survey (briefed in 1992), all agreed that
the subject warranted continued discussion. In January of 1996, a NASA sponsored
follow-on committee, headed by Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, will present recommendations
for asteroid defense to Congress. Most expect the Shoemaker Committee to recommend
an asteroid search program much like the one proposed in the original Spaceguard report.
While all of this is going on, it appears that the US military, specifically the Air
Force, has declined to participate in these surveys and the subsequent Congressional
briefs. The reluctance is somewhat understandable since scientists are just beginning to
understand and quantify the threat. Planetary Defense, if undertaken, would be a new
challenge, but one that clearly falls in the realm of military responsibility. The US Military
has organizations, equipment and talent that could be invaluable to an asteroid defense
program. We hope that this study will convince our leadership that the Air Force has both.iv
the capability and responsibility to participate in the defense of Earth (and our space
assets) from natural space...

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10/28/2011
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Science / Astronomy
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