SPACEWATCH, SPACEGUARD and the BIBLE
(Investigator 171, 2016 November)
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
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
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:
Of these over 1700 are "potentially hazardous".
For centuries until the 1970s the idea of rocks falling from Space was
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
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
“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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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,
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:
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
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
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.
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.
Started in 2010; funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division; collects
measurements with the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer)
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.
B612 Foundation is a non-government organization, founded in 2002,
headquartered in California, dedicated to planetary defense against
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)
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
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
• 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
• "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.
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…
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)
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.]
Dayton, L. Call to reinstate asteroid search, August 1, 2009,
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
"Anonymous" attempts to
demonstrate the Bible's relevance to nations and people of the third
millennium, on this website: