Tag: asteroid

NASA, FEMA Prepare for Sept 20 Asteroid Impact on California Coast

Article by Shepard Ambellas                               August 21, 2020                                (intellihub.com)

• In 2017, NASA and FEMA initiated a supposed fictitious response scenario for an asteroid hitting southern California on September 20, 2020. But is it just a drill? Or is it actual preparation for a real event while avoiding public panic?

• We have seen past situations when such a “drill” actually went “live”. In July 2017, a bombing drill became the actual London bombing. On September 11, 2001, a ‘military exercise’ became the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in NYC. Last March, in a White House press conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blurted out that the coronavirus pandemic was a “live exercise” playing out. (see video here) In the background, a disgusted President Trump is heard to mutter, “You should have let us know.”

• The ‘exercise’ goes like this: A fictitious asteroid is discovered in the fall of 2016 heading in the direction of the Earth. The asteroid is estimated to be between 300 and 800 feet in size. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory gives it a 2 percent chance of impacting the Earth on September 20, 2020. NASA tracks the asteroid over the following three months using ground-based telescope observations, and the probability of impact climbs to 65 percent. The observations are put on hold for another four months due to the asteroid’s position relative to the Sun. When the observations resume in May 2017, the impact probability jumps to 100 percent. By November 2017, the asteroid’s impact is calculated to hit somewhere in Southern California or just off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.

• However, NASA recently listed a real asteroid, dubbed 2017 SL16 discovered in 2017 (see here), as making a close approach to Earth on September 20, 2020. This raises a major red flag.

• NASA, FEMA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, the U.S. Air Force, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have all been participating in this four year ‘exercise’. “By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

• Previous tabletop simulations included a scenario where the asteroid is somehow deflected away from the Earth. But in this scenario, NASA JPL said that “the time to impact was too short for a deflection mission to be feasible”. Instead, they role play the forced mass evacuation of Los Angeles.

• “Scientists from JPL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and The Aerospace Corporation predicted impact footprint models, population displacement estimates, information on infrastructure that would be affected…” according to the NASA simulation report, “… as well as other data that could realistically be known at various points throughout the exercise scenario.”

• “[U]nlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It’s not a matter of if – but when – we will deal with such a situation.”

 

The National Aeronautics Space Administration and FEMA in 2017 devised and initiated a supposed fictitious scenario in which the two agencies would drill down on an asteroid that’s set to impact the Earth in or just off the coast of California on September 20, 2020, but is this so-called “exercise” really just a drill?

                       Craig Fugate

NASA claims “the simulation was designed to strengthen the collaboration between the two agencies, which have Administration direction to lead the U.S. response” but could the drill actually go live like so many other drills have in the past? (i.e. the July 7, 2007, London bombing, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and others)

    Thomas Zurbuchen

“It’s not a matter of if–but when–we will deal with such a situation,” Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said. “But unlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation.”

The exercise was designed to create “a forum for the planetary science community to show how it would collect, analyze and share data about a hypothetical asteroid predicted to impact Earth. Emergency managers discussed how that data would be used to consider some of the unique challenges an asteroid impact would present-for preparedness, response and public warning,” according to NASA.

Representatives from NASA, FEMA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, the U.S. Air Force, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services attended the initial meeting and will be participating throughout the 4 year long exercises which is set to come to a head on Sept 20, 2020.

“It is critical to exercise these kinds of low-probability but high-consequence disaster scenarios,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. “By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event.”

The exercise simulates a possible impact four years from now in which, according to NASA, “a fictitious asteroid imagined to have been discovered this fall with a 2 percent probability of impact with Earth on Sept. 20, 2020. The simulated asteroid was initially estimated to be between 300 and 800 feet (100 and 250 meters) in size, with a possibility of making impact anywhere along a long swath of Earth, including a narrow band of area that crossed the entire United States.”

12:11 minute video on the 11/20/20 asteroid simulation (‘End Times Productions’ YouTube)

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US to Agree to PACT on Space Mining, ‘Safety Zones’ on Moon, Sidelining Russia

May 6, 2020                          (rt.com)

• The Trump administration is ironing out details of a plan that would legitimize the regulation of mining on the Moon and establishing “safety zones” around off-planet bases. According to Reuters, Trump plans to ask allies such as Canada, Japan, the UAE, and European nations, to sign such an agreement, but not Russia.

• The agreement could pave the way for private companies to claim ownership over the resources they extract, some of which hope to mine the Moon for water, which can then be converted into rocket fuel. The proposed pact also provides for “safety zones” around bases which could soon be established on the Moon.

• Washington has long eyed the vast resources that space has to offer. In 2015, Congress passed a law allowing American companies and individuals to tap into Moon and asteroid resources. Last month, Trump signed an executive order (see Executive Order, Public Law 114-90 here) declaring that the US does not view space as “a global commons” and arguing that “Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space.”

• The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans nations from staking territorial claims over any part of a celestial body beyond Earth. The Trump administration will argue that the agreement is aimed at boosting coordination between nations, and therefore only reinforces the 1967 treaty.

• The US will begin negotiating the pact with its allies “in the coming weeks.” However, early talks will not include Moscow, which has repeatedly blasted Washington for its continuous push to make space the legal equivalent of the Wild West, including plans to militarize the outer realms and seize territory on other planets.

[Editor’s Note]  The pact agreement could also pave the way for private companies to claim ownership over the resources they have already extracted through mining activities in the asteroid belt and other celestial bodies throughout the solar system, and ‘safety zones’ around existing off-planet bases.

 

The US has been working on a draft deal that would regulate mining on the Moon as well as establishing “safety zones” around would-be extraterrestrial bases. However, the proposal reportedly excludes Russia, a major space power.

The Trump administration is ironing out details of a plan that would give its potential mining activities on the Moon a semblance of legality – even if not all the space-faring nations, including major ones such as Russia, are on board – a source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Citing US officials, the outlet reported that Washington will ask some of its allies, such as Canada, Japan, the UAE, and European nations, to sign an agreement that would regulate mining on the lunar surface in preparation for greater human activity on the Moon.

The agreement could pave the way for private companies to claim ownership over the resources they extract, some of which hope to mine the Moon for water, which can be converted into rocket fuel.

The proposed pact also provides for the establishment of “safety zones” around bases which, according to Washington’s vision, could soon pop up on the Moon. The zones would vary in size depending on the “operation,” the source told Reuters.

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Harvard Astronomer Stands By His Alien Theory

by Dugan Arnett                     April 3, 2019                     (bostonglobe.com)

• ‘Oumuamua’, a mysterious celestial object that hurtled close to the Earth in 2017, is the first known object to come here from outside the solar system. Rob Weryk, the person who initially spotted Oumuamua at the University of Hawaii, says that there isn’t “any reason to believe that it’s anything but a natural object.”

• But Professor Abraham ‘Avi’ Loeb (pictured above) of Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics noted that the object did not behave like a typical comet or asteroid. If it were a comet, Loeb said, its excess acceleration would have likely been apparent in the form of a tail of dust or gas. Also, its elongated shape is unlike any asteroid or comet observed before. Loeb said he is simply using the available data to draw an evidence-based conclusion. “Let’s put all the possibilities on the table,” Loeb said. Perhaps, Loeb reasoned, the object had been an artificial object sent from an extraterrestrial civilization. “If someone would show me clear evidence that it’s natural in origin, then I would admit it and move on,” he said.

• Loeb’s speculation has drawn the ire of the scientific community. Astrophysicists from across the country have spoken out against Loeb’s theory, painting him as a sensationalist and worse. Some think that Loeb’s assertions will damage the field’s long-term credibility. “[P]eople think that astronomers are just hunting for aliens,” said Paul M. Sutter, astrophysicist at Ohio State University. “The next time we go out to Congress or the public asking for money, there’s going to be a lot of people shaking their heads saying, ‘Oh, you guys are just nutballs.’”

• But Loeb has refused to back down, digging in his heels against what he considers unjust appraisal. His work, he insists, is not the result of some half-baked sci-fi fantasy. The researchers whose opinions Loeb does value have offered support for the idea — even if they’ve been wary of putting their names to it publicly. Loeb argues that scientific study has become far too conservative — avoiding controversial or unpopular examinations in favor of safer subjects that might earn a scientist an award or induction into a prestigious society, but are not necessarily conducive to substantial scientific advances.

• Irwin Shapiro, the former longtime director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, called Loeb “brilliant.” Stephen Hawking once dined at his home. In 2012, Loeb was named one of the 25 most influential people in space by Time Magazine.

• Loeb was raised in an Israeli farming village. He passed his days reading philosophy books and writing notes to himself. He didn’t move into the field of astrophysics until the age of 26. “The reason I’m different from my colleagues,” he said, “is because I was different from the beginning.”

• In spite of the backlash, Loeb has been happy to field calls from media outlets across the world, and is close to signing a deal for a book on ‘Oumauamua’. Seven different filmmakers have reached to him out about the possibility of doing a film.

 

Like a lot of people, Avi Loeb, the chairman of Harvard University’s renowned astronomy department, does his best thinking in the shower.

It’s where he has hatched ideas for papers on black holes and the future of the universe, and where, last year, he spent some time pondering a notion that would eventually make him — in some circles, at least — the subject of considerable ridicule.

artist’s rendering of ‘Oumuamua’

He’d been thinking about the phenomenon of ‘Oumuamua, a mysterious object that hurtled close to the Earth in 2017. It had become an instant sensation in the scientific community, the first known object from outside the solar system, and astronomers and astrophysicists had jumped to analyze and explain the anomalous object. Theories were developed. Papers were published.

Loeb had a theory, too, and late last year, he detailed it, along with co-author and postdoctoral researcher Shmuel Bialy, in an article for The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Perhaps, he reasoned, the structure had been an artificial object sent from an extraterrestrial civilization.

Almost immediately, the piece ignited the kind of firestorm rarely, if ever, seen in the buttoned-down world of modern-day astronomy.

In the months since the paper’s publication, astrophysicists from across the country have spoken out against Loeb’s theory, painting him as a sensationalist and worse. The researcher who first discovered ‘Oumuamua — Hawaiian for “messenger from afar arriving first” — via telescope has called Loeb’s suggestions “wild speculation.” Another compared Loeb’s logic to that of flat-earthers.

But even as criticism has continued to pour in, Loeb — who is short and slight and wears a near-constant half-smile — has refused to back down, digging in his heels against what he considers unjust appraisal.

He has brushed off much of the negative feedback as the jealous or prejudiced grumblings of scientists he doesn’t respect, adding that the researchers whose opinions he does value have offered support for the idea — even if they’ve been wary of putting their names to it publicly.

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