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Taskforce To Monitor the Threat of an Asteroid Strike

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  • Jeroen Kumeling
    Taskforce To Monitor the Threat of an Asteroid Strike From BBC News Online An expert taskforce to monitor the threat of an asteroid strike on Earth has been
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2000
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      Taskforce To Monitor the Threat of an Asteroid Strike


      From BBC News Online
      An expert taskforce to monitor the threat of an asteroid strike on Earth has
      been appointed by the government.

      The men who will examine the risk of the earth being destroyed by an object
      from outer space were named on Tuesday.

      The task force will be chaired by Dr Harry Atkinson, past chairman of the
      European Space Agency's Council. The other members will be environmentalist
      and former diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell and Professor David Williams.

      Welsh MP Lembit Opik, who first suggested setting up a body to monitor the
      threat, warned in the Commons in March that the risk of being killed by an
      asteroid was 750 times higher than winning the National Lottery.

      This is not something that people should lie awake at night worrying about
      but we cannot ignore the risk, however remote.

      The Montgomery Liberal Democrat MP met Lord Sainsbury in July, urging him to
      set up a body to examine the possibility of objects from space striking the
      Earth.

      Science Minister Lord Sainsbury has now asked the three-man team to look at
      the potential for risk posed by asteroids and comets - termed "near Earth
      objects".

      The team will make proposals to the British National Space Centre on the
      nature of the hazard and will consider how the UK should best contribute to
      international effort to prevent a strike.

      Blasts from the past 66m BC: Six-mile wide asteroid hits Mexico, causing
      global destruction 50,000BC: Asteroid strikes Arizona with the force of a 15
      megaton nuclear bomb June 1908: Meteor impacts on Siberia, 770 square miles
      of forest destroyed October 1992, football-sized space rock destroys a car
      in New York [Source: National Geographic] Announcing the members of the task
      force, Lord Sainsbury said: "The risk of an asteroid or comet causing
      substantial damage is extremely remote.

      "We cannot ignore the risk, however remote, and a case can be made for
      monitoring the situation on an international basis.

      "I hope that the setting up of this task force will help the UK play a full
      and prominent role in international discussions on this important issue."

      He said he was "delighted to be able to announce such a well-qualified team
      of experts", adding that he looked forward to receiving their report by the
      middle of 2000.

      Sir Crispin Tickell said: "One of the purposes of the task force is to put
      together the evidence to identify what is coming towards us.

      "Last year, an object passed between the moon and Earth which, if it had hit
      us, would have done a lot of damage."

      Asteroids can devastate the Earth

      Many near earth objects have been identified and their orbits determined
      using ground-based telescopes in a number of countries, although many are
      yet to be surveyed.

      Of those known, none is believed to pose a significant risk to the earth in
      the foreseeable future, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

      However, on a time-scale of many millions of years, the earth has been hit
      by objects of sufficient size to cause serious damage.

      These include the object which is thought to have hit the Earth about 65
      million years ago, and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

      Search BBC News Online The BBC is not responsible for the content of
      external internet sites B BC News | UK POLITICS | Taskforce tackles asteroid
      threat

      From: Ndunlks@...

      Sponsor: ONElist

      Credit: Skywatch International Inc. Website At:
      http://www.skywatch-international.org

      Jeroen Kumeling
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      email: jkumeling@...

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