Authored by Air Command and Staff College
Concern exists among an increasing number of scientists throughout the world regarding the possibility of a catastrophic event caused by an impact of a large earth-crossing object (ECO) on the Earth-Moon System (EMS), be it an asteroid or comet. Such events, although rare for large objects (greater than 1 kilometer diameter) are not unprecedented. Indeed, the great upheaval and resulting ice age that marked the extinction of the dinosaurs is thought to have been caused by the impact of a 10 km diameter asteroid. In 1908 a stony asteroid of approximately 50 meters diameter exploded in the air above the Tunguska River in Siberia, producing an equivalent yield of 15-30 megatons of TNT, and leveling over 2,000 square miles of dense forest. Such an event is thought to occur approximately every century. It is only a matter of time before the world finds itself in a crisis situation-a crisis involving the detection of a large ECO, leaving little time to react and resulting in global panic, chaos, and possible catastrophe.
Collectively as a global community, no current viable capability exists to defend the EMS against a large ECO, leaving its inhabitants vulnerable to possible death and destruction of untold proportion and even possible extinction of the human race. In this regard, a planetary defense system (PDS) capability should be resourced, developed, and deployed. At this time Planetary Defense is not an assigned or approved mission of the Department of Defense or the Air Force. Such a system would consist of a detection subsystem, command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence (C4I) subsystem and a mitigation subsystem. There are many potential variations of these subsystems which, with advances in novel technologies, will be available by 2025 to develop a credible PDS. We propose a three-tier system developed sequentially in time and space. Such a system would serve not only as a means to preserve life on earth, but also help to unite the global community in a common effort that would promote peaceful cooperation and economic prosperity as related spin-offs and dual uses of novel technologies evolve.
Jun 05 2014
1499786999 / 9781499786996
US Trade Paper
8.5″ x 11″
Science / Space Science