07 September 2006


I've mentioned this before:
A mountain of rock and iron is hurtling towards us from space. Apophis—a 300-meter diameter asteroid—is still millions of kilometers distant. But in 2029, it will make a spectacularly close passage by our planet. When it does, its orbit around the Sun will be affected.

A shift of just a few hundred kilometers, and Apophis could return in 2036 to slam into Earth, creating widespread devastation.

Will Apophis pass through the “keyhole,” the small area on its 2029 path that would cause it to hit Earth on its next orbit in 2036? We have to find out, because if an impact is likely to occur, we're going to need all the time possible to plan and implement space missions to deflect it away from Earth.

That vivid description is from the Planetary Society. Via Chairman Bruce, I learn that they have a plan.
The Planetary Society, not content to wait for governments to come to the rescue, has come up with a plan to help advance our efforts to prepare for the inevitable—whether it happens with Apophis in a few years, or another object a few decades from now.

With our members' support, The Planetary Society will challenge the most innovative and brilliant minds on the planet today to design a space mission to visit Apophis and “tag” it for tracking.
We're going to back this contest with a $50,000 cash reward, along with the alluring possibility that NASA or another space agency will actually transform the design into a real mission.

They're raising money to fund this project. Bruce Willis? Michael Bay? Ben Affleck? I'm looking at you.

No comments: