Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids

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In 1993, the U.S. Department of Defense declassified information dealing with frequent explosions in the upper atmosphere caused by meteoric impact. It is estimated that impacts have occurred of a magnitude equivalent to the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima. Not all such space voyagers meet their end in the atmosphere, however; huge craters attest to the bombardment of earth over millions of years, and a major impact may have resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs. An impact in Siberia near the beginning of this century proves that such events are not confined to geologic time. Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids marks a significant step in the attempt to come to grips with the threats posed by such phenomena. It brings together more than one hundred scientists from around the world, who draw on observational and theoretical research to focus on the technical problems related to all aspects of dealing with these hazards: searching for and identifying hazardous comets and asteroids; describing their statistics and characteristics; intercepting and altering the orbits of dangerous objects; and applying existent technologies—rocket boosters, rendezvous and soft-landing techniques, instrumentation—to such missions. The book considers defensive options for diverting or disrupting an approaching body, including solar sails, kinetic-energy impacts, nuclear explosives, robotic mass drivers, and various propulsion systems. A cataclysmic impact posing a threat to life on Earth is a possibility that tomorrow's technology is capable of averting. This book examines in depth the reality of the threat and proposes practical measures that can be initiated now should we ever need to deal with it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is an impressive start at redirecting the thinking of both idealistic astronomers intent on expanding knowledge of the universe and the world's arsenal of nuclear scientists who designed and built weapons that themselves could wreak worldwide devastation. Experts from all sides have made a collaborative, multinational effort to save the world from a chunk of rock or a ball of ice. This work has historical as well as pragmatic significance." —Sky and Telescope"As with all the books in this Arizona Space Science Series the standard of production, illustration, and referencing is first class." —The Observatory
Based on at least four workshops, this volume examines in depth the reality of the threat from outer space and proposes measures that can be initiated to deal with it. Bringing together some 100 scientists from all over the world, it focuses on technical problems of searching for and identifying hazardous comets and asteroids and of intercepting and altering their orbits. It also considers defenses against approaching bodies, applying existing technology such as rocket boosters, solar sails, nuclear explosives, robotic mass drivers, and various propulsion systems. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816515059
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1995
  • Series: Space Science Series
  • Pages: 1300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Collaborating Authors
Early Impacts: Earth Emergent from Its Cosmic Environment 3
Impact Delivery of Volatiles and Organic Molecules to Earth 9
The Impact Hazard 59
Near-Earth Object Interception Workshop 93
Near-Earth Objects: Present Search Programs 127
Earth-Crossing Asteroids and Comets: Groundbased Search Strategies 149
Detection of Meteoroid Impacts by Optical Sensors in Earth Orbit 199
Warning Times and Impact Probabilities for Long-Period Comets 221
Predicting Close Approaches of Asteroids and Comets to Earth 241
The Role of Groundbased Radar in Near-Earth Object Hazard Identification and Mitigation 259
The Population of Earth-Crossing Asteroids 285
The Flux of Periodic Comets Near Earth 313
Collisional Lifetimes and Impact Statistics of Near-Earth Asteroids 337
Crater Size Distributions and Impact Probabilities on Earth from Lunar, Terrestrial-Planet, and Asteroid Cratering Data 359
The Record of Past Impacts on Earth 417
Are Impacts Correlated in Time? 463
Hazards Due to Giant Comets: Climate and Short-Term Catastrophism 479
Physical Properties of Near-Earth Asteroids: Implications for the Hazard Issue 537
Classifying and Modeling Neo Material Properties and Interactions 551
Properties of Cometary Nuclei 597
A Current Working Model of a Comet Nucleus and Implications for Neo Interactions 635
Missions to Near-Earth Objects 651
DoD Technologies and Missions of Relevance to Asteroid and Comet Exploration 671
Human Exploration of Near-Earth Asteroids 683
Computer Simulation of Hypervelocity Impact and Asteroid Explosion 711
Consequences of Impacts of Cosmic Bodies on the Surface of the Earth 721
Tsunami Generated by Small Asteroid Impacts 779
Environmental Perturbations Caused by Impacts 791
Extraterrestrial Impacts and Mass Extinctions of Life 827
Extinctions at the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary: The Link to the Chicxulub Impact 859
Faunal Change Following the Cretaceous-Tertiary Impact: Using Paleontological Data to Assess the Hazards of Impacts 879
Deflection and Fragmentation of Near-Earth Asteroids 897
Defending the Earth Against Impacts from Large Comets and Asteroids 929
The Coupling of Energy to Asteroids and Comets 955
Terminal Intercept for Less Than One Orbital Period Warning 1013
Vehicle Systems for Missions to Protect the Earth Against Neo Impacts 1035
Space Launch Vehicles 1065
The Role of Nuclear Thermal Propulsion in Mitigating Earth-Threatening Asteroids 1073
Applications of Nuclear Propulsion to Neo Interceptors 1089
Non-Nuclear Strategies for Deflecting Comets and Asteroids 1111
The Impact Hazard: Issues for the Future 1135
The Deflection Dilemma: Use Versus Misuse of Technologies for Avoiding Interplanetary Collision Hazards 1145
Cost and Benefit of Near-Earth Object Detection and Interception 1157
The Comet and Asteroid Impact Hazard in Perspective 1191
Evaluating Space Resources in the Context of Earth Impact Hazards: Asteroid Threat or Asteroid Opportunity? 1213
The Lesson of Grand Forks: Can a Defense Against Asteroids be Sustained? 1225
Appendix: Earth-Crossing Asteroids 1233
Glossary 1239
Acknowledgments 1269
Index 1273
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    The definitive book on the subject

    This book has it all. Everything you could ever want to know about comets and asteroids. A collection of workshop results, the book focuses specifically on hazards from space, their overall global impact and how we are currently dealing with those hazards. Though heavy in math and physics, the book nonetheless is well worth reading. The definitive book on the subject.

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