SPACEWATCH, SPACEGUARD and the BIBLE

Anonymous

(Investigator 171, 2016 November)



WAKE-UP CALLS

The discovery of a 2km-wide space rock stirred news studios in 2002 when scientists calculated it might hit Earth in 2019. An impact by a 2km-asteroid would kill everyone within 1000km and devastate climate, civilization and food production world-wide. Further calculation, however, ruled out a 2019 impact but a small risk for 2060 remained.

In 2013 Adelaide’s Sunday Mail reported:

An asteroid nine times larger than the QE2 is due to sail past the Earth later this month... (19 May, 2013)

In 1994 twenty mountain-size objects hit Jupiter and created a "great black spot". Just one object had 600 times more power than all the world's nuclear weapons combined.

Governments began to realize that the detection of asteroids is important.

From 2000 to 2013 Earth's atmosphere experienced eight impact-blasts equal or greater than the Hiroshima bomb.

In 2009 "an object slammed into Jupiter leaving a black scar the size of Earth." (Cosmos, October/November, 2009, p.29)


DETECTION OF NEOs

Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids and comets with orbits near Earth (or more formally whose orbits enter 0.98-1.3 astronomical units from the Sun).

Cumulative detection of NEOs increased as follows:

1980    86
1990    170
2000    920
2013    10,000
2016    15,000

Of these over 1700 are "potentially hazardous".

For centuries until the 1970s the idea of rocks falling from Space was generally ridiculed.

Then, in 1980 the publication of the paper "Extraterrestrial Cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction" by Louis and Walter Alvarez of California caught worldwide attention. The paper linked the extinction of the dinosaurs to an impact of a ten-kilometre rock 65,000,000 years ago.

In 1989 the close passage of asteroid 1989FC prompted the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics to recommend increased search for potential impactors.

A "Spacewatch" program by University of Arizona had operated since 1980, but much more was needed.

The U.S. House of Representatives charged the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1990 to investigate how to increase the detection rate of Earth-orbit-crossing asteroids and technologies to destroy them.


SPACEGUARD EUROPE

“Spaceguard” is a collective/general term for all official efforts to discover and study NEOs but may also refer to the Spaceguard Foundation.

A group within the International Astronomical Union held a workshop in 1995 titled Beginning the Spaceguard Survey. In 1996 the participants set up the Spaceguard Foundation in Rome, with members from USA, Italy, Germany, Japan, Sweden, France, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Australia, Uruguay, Denmark and UK.

"Spaceguard" associations were subsequently established in many countries to promote the study of NEOs.


BRITAIN

In 2000 Britain’s Minister for Science announced the setting up of the Near Earth Objects Task Force to study potentially hazardous NEOs.

Britain's "Spaceguard Centre" was opened in 2001 and is funded by visitor admission fees. It is both an observatory and Britain's main NEO information centre.


AUSTRALIA

The "Anglo Australian Near-Earth Asteroid Survey", renamed "Spaceguard Australia" in 1995, was based near Coonabarabran (NSW) and used the Siding Spring Observatory. It operated 1990-1996 and discovered 38 near-Earth asteroids and 9 comets.

The Howard government cancelled Australia's Spaceguard program in 1996. New Scientist said of the cancellation: "This could be the greatest act of folly ever perpetrated." (12 October, 1996)

In 2002 ninety international researchers urged Australia's science minister, Peter McGauran, to reinstate funding but he dismissed search for Earth-threatening asteroids as a "fruitless, unnecessary, self-indulgent exercise".

Another call came in 2009. Leigh Dayton (2009) reported:

A GROUP of scientists and former NASA astronauts is urging the Rudd government to join the international search for comets or asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

In an open letter sent yesterday to Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Science Minister Kim Carr and Defence Minister John Faulkner, the group says it's time to relaunch Spaceguard Australia, a program to survey the southern skies…

No southern hemisphere telescopes are watching the sky. The result is a "blind spot" in coverage that could delay the identification of an NEO threat by four to 12 years, as northern and southern observations are needed to determine an object's orbit…

The re-start cost for Spaceguard Australia would be $5 million and running costs $1,000,000 yearly (equal to 5 cents per Australian adult). [If the cost were raised by tax-deductible donations I would donate my entire income for 1 year, but almost no one else cares.]

Astronomer Rob McNaught operated the Uppsala Telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory as part of America's Catalina Sky Survey until his funding was cut in 2013.


AMERICAN SPACEWATCH

Minor Planet Center (MPC)
The MPC was set up in 1947 and since 2006 is located at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory near Boston. The MPC collates worldwide data for asteroids and comets, calculates their orbits, offers the Minor Planet Catalogue for download, and alerts politicians to potentially dangerous NEOs. Timothy Spahr oversees a staff of five.

NEO Observations Program
In 1998 the US Congress directed NASA to locate 90% of NEOs larger than 1 km within 10 years.

This resulted in the Near-Earth Object Observations Program located at NASA Headquarters, Washington, and the "Near-Earth Object Program Office" managed by Donald Yeomans at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The NEO Observations Program coordinates NASA-sponsored efforts to find and track potentially hazardous asteroids and comets.

NASA-funded NEO search-projects include Spacewatch, LONEOS, NEAT, LINEAR, CSS, Pan-STARRS and NEOWISE:

Spacewatch
A University of Arizona project which began in 1980. Spacewatch developed the technique of scanning the sky with a "charge-coupled device" and has searched for asteroids and comets since 1984.

Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search (LONEOS)
Located in Arizona, this NASA-funded project had 13 team members and ran from 1993 to 2008. Asteroids were found by obtaining four pictures of the same region of sky at intervals and 289 were discovered of which 55 were larger than 1 km.

Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT)
NEAT was a program run by NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1995 until 2007 and discovered thousands of asteroids. NEAT used a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance telescope on an extinct volcano in Hawaii.  

Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR)
The LINEAR project is a collaboration of the US Air Force, NASA, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. LINEAR began in 1996, uses telescopes located in New Mexico, and has made the majority of discoveries of asteroids above 1 km in size.

Catalina Sky Survey (CSS)
Catalina Sky Survey, based at the University of Arizona, utilizes two telescopes and in 2005 became the most prolific discoverer of NEOs — 310 in 2005, 396 in 2006, 466 in 2007, and 564 in 2008.

On October 6, 2008 CSS member Richard Kowalski observed an asteroid approaching Earth. He informed the Minor Planet Center where Tim Spahr calculated impact in 19 hours. Spahr reported to the office in Pasadena which reported to the President. The following morning the 4-metre object struck the Nubian Desert.

Pan-STARRS telescope
This telescope on the summit of Haleakala Crater, Hawaii, detected the 10,000th near-Earth asteroid on June 18, 2013. The Pan-STARRS survey is managed by the University of Hawaii and gets NASA funding.

NEOWISE
Started in 2010; funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division; collects measurements with the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) spacecraft.

Minor Planet Center
Asteroids discovered by the above projects and search teams are reported to the Minor Planet Center near Boston, given unique names, and their orbits calculated. Its director Tim Spahr reports ominous findings to NASA's asteroid investigation team in Pasadena.


SENTINEL

B612 Foundation is a non-government organization, founded in 2002, headquartered in California, dedicated to planetary defense against NEOs.

B612 plans to build and operate the "Sentinel Space Telescope" which will orbit the Sun and discover more asteroids than all previous efforts combined. (Grossman 2012)


IMPACT SIMULATIONS

Professor Peter H. Schultz (b. 1944) specialized in planetary geology and impact craters.

On the BBC television programme titled Asteroids The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (2010) Schultz fires a ¼-inch metal ball into sand at 15 times the speed of sound with the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range to simulate an asteroid impact. The effects are photographed at 1 million frames per second.


IMPACT

If an asteroid too big to be diverted or destroyed targets Earth, how might the world respond?

•    Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues would overflow with worshippers.
•    Wild currency fluctuations ruin banks, savings and stock-markets.
•    Everyone abandons common goals related to schooling, family, health, holidays, employment and surgery.
•    Employers including shops, banks, factories, hospitals and police lose staff as billions walk off their jobs.
•    "Safe sex" and every sort of inhibition and decency become irrelevant.
•    Government services in every country break down.
•    Violent "goodbye" parties where "anything goes" disrupt every suburb.
•    People living within a huge radius of the calculated impact zone swarm outwards creating unimaginable traffic jams and crowding.
•    Vast looting sprees and crime waves erupt worldwide as law and order break down. Army units shoot on sight and fighting escalates everywhere.
•    Terror and desperation provoke millions of suicides.
•    People who still command resources outfit cellars, country estates, and underground mines and bunkers.
•    Top politicians and military commanders retreat to underground cities originally built to withstand nuclear war; or commandeer frantic efforts to escape in spacecraft to the Moon, Mars or further; or hide in mountain shelters far from the impact zone; or dive to the ocean depths in nuclear powered submarines.


THE BIBLE

Can humans prevent the "end of the world"?

If not, who will be held responsible?

Enigmatic passages in the Bible include:

The LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities… (Genesis 19:24-29)

… by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly… (II Peter 2:4-6)

There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars… (Luke 21:25)

Though they dig into Sheol, from there my hand will take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them. (Amos 9:2-3)

… the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)


CONCLUSION

Scientific concern about destruction from Space has increased since the 1980s. But the Bible got there first and put all nations on notice twenty centuries ago.

[More information is in preparation.]


REFERENCES:

Dayton, L. Call to reinstate asteroid search, August 1, 2009,
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/

Grossman, L. The People's Asteroid Defence, New Scientist, 7 July, 2012, p. 12

Luntz, S. Collision Course, Australasian Science, October 2012, pp 31-32

Montgomery, B. When worlds collide, The Weekend Australian, June 29-30, 2002, p. 21

Than, K. Vital eye for killer asteroids to shut, New Scientist, 7 July, 2012, p. 12

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits/

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/program/neo.html

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/programs/intro.html

http://spaceguard.rm.iasf.cnr.it/SGF/INDEX.html

http://spacewatch.lpl.arizona.edu/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B612_Foundation.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth-Objects

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H_McNaught

https://en-wikipedia.org/wiki/Siding_Spring_Observatory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceguard

https://spaceguardcentre.com

www.neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits/

www.neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/

www.neo.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/

www.minorplanetcenter.net

www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=2634.htm

www.universitytoday.com/8430/nasa-rule-out-asteroid-collision-in-2019


"Anonymous" attempts to demonstrate the Bible's relevance to nations and people of the third millennium, on this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/