Fwd = World's Asteroid Hunters Make Political Plea to Save Earth
- Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
Original Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 11:19:12 -0800
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Friday February 01 09:07 AM EST
World's Asteroid Hunters Make Political Plea to Save Earth
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer, SPACE.com
Prompted by a close brush between Earth and an asteroid in early
January, scores of top researchers who often don't see eye-to-eye have
made a joint political plea for help in saving the planet.
The fear: a cosmic sucker punch from southern skies that could destroy
The remedy: a new multi-million dollar telescope in Australia.
While a coordinated asteroid search program is underway in the
Northern Hemisphere, none exists south of the equator, creating a
blind spot that equals nearly a third of the heavens. So 91
international astronomers and prominent space activists -- including a
who's who of asteroid experts -- sent a letter asking the Australian
government to rejoin the asteroid search seven years after the country
The letter, provided to SPACE.com before it was mailed Tuesday,
commends the Australians for a recent official comment that the
government would look into renewed funding for Spaceguard, an
international group that promotes asteroid detection programs.
The letter prods Australia to action, suggesting the country build a
telescope. It makes no bones about the stakes involved.
"A major global Spaceguard effort could provide decades of warning
prior to an impact," the letter states. "This would be sufficient time
to refine the space technology needed to nudge a threatening asteroid
into a harmless orbit, or to evacuate the predicted impact area.
Without Spaceguard there would be too little warning to prevent a
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