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UN urged to coordinate killer asteroid defences
The technology to detect and deflect dangerous space rocks already exists all that's missing is someone to coordinate its use.
That is the finding of a two-year investigation by the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), an international group of astronauts, cosmonauts, and members of space community. The group unveiled the results of its research at the offices of the Google Foundation in San Francisco yesterday.

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Earth has been struck by asteroids through the eons, and not just the "big one" that is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.
Astronomers observing our solar system are certain an asteroid could hit the Earth again. The question is "where and when?" Observatories around the world, including Air Force satellite tracking facilities on the Haleakala summit, have been looking for objects in near space for decades, cataloguing those that could become problems as they circle through the solar system.
But most observatories locate asteroids and comets in the course of doing other research.
For the new prototype Pan-STARRS PS1 facility on Haleakala, locating and tracking potentially hazardous objects in space will be a primary role.

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"Who knows whether, when a comet shall approach this globe to destroy it, as it often has been and will be destroyed, men will not tear rocks from their foundations by means of steam, and hurl mountains, as the giants are said to have done, against the flaming mass? - And then we shall have traditions of Titans again, and of wars with Heaven" - Lord Byron.

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On the island of Tenerife, the Observatorio del Teide sits 2400 metres high on a volcano, intently scanning the Canarian night. Thousands of kilometres away, in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia region, one of the world's most powerful telescopes also looks up, similarly seeking tiny targets. Both telescopes have the same mission: to find and catalogue the millions of debris fragments that swarm in orbit near the Earth.

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Admit it: In your secret heart of hearts, you're petrified that a giant asteroid will someday hit the earth, wiping out all life before humans get the chance to do it themselves.
If so, take comfort in this. A joint research project run from Japan and Europe has, if not that exact concern, then at least a powerful interest in figuring out which floating chunks of rocks in the solar system might actually prove dangerous one day.

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A gravity tractor, as envisioned by scientists, is a spacecraft that would hover over an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and, through gravitational attraction, accelerate or slow down the asteroid's rate of travel. By altering the speed, the gravity tractor could prevent the asteroid from striking Earth and wreaking environmental and economic havoc.

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A draft UN treaty to determine what would be have to be done if a giant asteroid was on a collision course with Earth is to be drawn up this year.
The document would set out global policies including who should be in charge of plans to deflect any object.
It is the brainchild of the Association of Space Explorers, a professional body for astronauts and cosmonauts.
At the moment Nasa is monitoring 127 near earth objects (NEO) that have a possibility of hitting the earth.

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Hum,
no, Vesta is just a large asteroid that orbits between Mars and Jupiter, (in fact it is so large that Vesta may be classified as a dwarf planet in the future) - its orbit never comes close to Earth.

At opposition on May 31, 2007 Vesta will be only 1.14003 AU from earth. 

-- Edited by Blobrana at 13:42, 2007-01-25

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  Hello all
   newbie question.Is Vesta classed as a near earth object?

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