Asteroid Affirmative

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Detection is key to the deflection technology the world will need to survive

Keim 09(How to Defend Earth Against an Asteroid Strike By Brandon Keim March 27, 2009, is a Wired Science reporter and freelance journalist G.L)

Under NASA’s Near Earth Objects program, six U.S. observatories "search every clear night for these kinds of objects. They are tracked, cataloged and stored," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA’s goal is to find 90 percent of those that are one kilometer across and larger. We’re at 82 percent right now, and we’ve only been aggressively searching at current levels for eight to 10 years. Those ones just haven’t flown into view." Chesley declined to comment on the program’s budgetary status, but other astronomers have called for an expansion of its shoestring $4.1 million budget. Congress asked NASA in 2005 to increase its survey efforts, but then-agency director Michael Griffin refused to divert the estimated $1 billion needed for an overhaul away from other projects. "A survey isn’t something you can do just once and close the book and walk away. Even if you’ve discovered an asteroid, you can only predict out so far … a couple hundred years into the future at most. The asteroids need to continue to be observed," said Chesley. "Without early discovery, there are no options. All the deflection technology in the world will not save you if you haven’t discovered the asteroid before it comes to you."


Observation 3: An Asteroid Strike would be bad
Asteroid threat is realistic and we need to get ready

Shiga 2009 (David) (New Scientist; 9/26/2009, Vol. 203 Issue 2727, p30-33, 4p)

They can strike without warning and devastate the planet, so it's time to get asteroids firmly in our sights, says David Shiga IT LOOKS inconsequential enough, the faint little spot moving leisurely across the sky. The mountain-top telescope that just detected it is taking it very seriously, though. It is an asteroid, one never seen before. Rapid-survey telescopes discover thousands of asteroids every year, but there's something very particular about this one. The telescope's software decides to wake several human astronomers with a text message they hoped they would never receive. The asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. It is the size of a skyscraper and it's big enough to raze a city to the ground. Oh, and it will be here in three days. Far-fetched it might seem, but this scenario is all too plausible. Certainly it is realistic enough that the US air force recently brought together scientists, military officers and emergency-response officials for the first time to assess the nation's ability to cope, should it come to pass.
An asteroid impact is inevitable-the magnitude of the impact makes it more important than proliferation, warming, or disease

Lawler in 2k7, Andrew (Discover, WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE ASTEROID STRIKES, Nov2007, Vol. 28, Issue 1, Academic Search Premiere, accessed 6/27/2011)

Amid fears about global warming, terrorism, disease, and nuclear proliferation, the threat of rocks from space may seem more the province of bad Hollywood movies than front-page news. Even professional astronomers have long dismissed asteroids as undistinguished flotsam and jetsam, would-be planets that circle the sun endlessly in a belt between Mars and Jupiter. Their derision left the field of asteroid hunting largely to amateurs and eccentrics. Only recently have researchers glimpsed the dangers lurking in our deceptively quiet neighborhood. "Impacts are a fact of life in the universe, but when we look up, it's not what we see," says Carolyn Shoemaker, who, together with her late husband. Gene, pioneered ways of spotting asteroids and comets. It was geologists who first noticed the evidence of huge impact craters on Earth that had formed long after the solar system settled into its present form, prompting biologists to speculate on whether those collisions dramatically altered life's evolution. Later, using new technologies on the ground as well as robotic spacecraft, scientists like Shoemaker started to track, catalog, and closely examine the objects. With each new sighting, asteroids turn out to be far more varied, unruly, and bizarre than astronomers dreamed. Many have companions. Some are rubble heaps held together only loosely by their own gravity. Others are extremely dense nickel-iron objects. Their colors can range from a deep dark chocolate to a glinty white. Even the old distinction between comets (dirty snowballs) and asteroids (hard rocks) has become blurred. Some comets eventually turn into asteroids as they burn off their ice and lose their tails while traveling through the warm inner solar system. And comets — which mostly reside in the solar system's far fringes — pop up occasionally in the asteroid belt, They may even be directly responsible for life on Earth. Donald Yeomans, who calculates the orbits for near-Earth objects at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says that comets flung out from that belt pummeled our planet shortly after its formation and could have left behind water, possibly creating the conditions that allowed Earth to become a cradle for life. The vast bulk of asteroids — millions of individual objects ranging from 560-mile-wide Ceres to pea-size pieces of space shrapnel — reside in a broad zone between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the legendary asteroid belt. If pulled together, all this material would form a mass smaller than Earth's moon, but the immense gravitational force of Jupiter prevents the bits from coalescing into a solid planet. When the rocks approach Jupiter, the occasional asteroid can find itself pushed out of the procession and into deep space; some spin out beyond Pluto's orbit, while others fall toward the sun, each with its own unique orbit. Some even find a home around other planets. Mars's two moons, Phobos and Deimos — along with several of Jupiter's and Saturn's satellites — may be captured asteroids. What most interests and worries scientists like Chesley and Yeomans, however, are near-Earth asteroids — those with orbits disconcertingly close. Members of this class apparently ushered the dinosaurs off the evolutionary stage 65 million years ago and left a three-quarter-mile-wide hole in the Arizona desert less than 50,000 years ago. A few scientists think a near-Earth asteroid on a bull's-eye path might even have reshaped human history (see "Did a Comet Cause the Great Flood?" page 66). Somewhere in space, one of their kind is orbiting its way to an inevitable rendezvous with Earth: The question isn't if we will be struck again, but when. There are scattered reports of deaths by meteorites through recorded history, like a Chinese chronicle asserting that thousands died during a 1490 meteor shower One prediction is indisputable: With growing populations comes greater risk. Had the 1908 impact in Siberia landed in an urban area, for example, it would have been as devastating as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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