Thursday, December 31, 2009

Russian Space Program Considering Intercepting 'Apophis' (Asteroid)

Russia is considering launching a mission to intercept the asteroid 'Apophis'. Given its size and presumed composition, Apophis would classify as a country-killer. Our current calculations indicate that it will miss Earth, but just barely. Of all the known asteroids it represents the biggest danger. A few thoughts on what the Russians are thinking. Some people have said that Russia may land on it and steer it at the United States using it as a weapon. This is highly doubtful. Even if they could be assured that it would hit its target (US, China...?) the fall out would have a significant impact on them. Also, it is highly doubtful that the country being targeted would sit back waiting to be destroyed or believe it was an accident. The target country would almost certainly go nuclear against Russia. Some think it is Russia trying to establish a leadership position in space. This is more likely then the weapon theory, but also not probable. The Russian space program may not really be capable, financially or technologically, to take this on. I think it is more likely that the Russians are setting themselves up to be a part of the mission should NASA, the Europeans, or Japanese decided to launch one. It may also be a ploy by the agency to get more funding from the government.

"Russia is considering sending a spacecraft to deflect a large asteroid and prevent a possible collision with Earth, according to a radio interview by the head of the country's space agency. Anatoly Perminov said the space agency will hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis, and said NASA, ESA, the Chinese space agency and others would be invited to join the project. Apophis is a 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid that was spotted in 2004. It is projected to come within 29,450 kilometers (18,300 miles) of Earth in 2029, and currently has an estimated 1-in-250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036."


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