2002 September 25 Wednesday
Asteroid Detection System To Reduce Nuclear War Danger

A meteor exploding in the high atmosphere at the wrong place and time could accidentally trigger a nuclear war:

On June 6, U.S. satellites detected a 12-kiloton explosion in the atmosphere, equivalent to the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. It was a meteor vaporizing over the Mediterranean Sea, but had it hit the Earth's atmosphere a few hours earlier, it would have been seen as a bright flash and felt as a distant boom by Indian and Pakistani soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region.

A general in the US Space Command wants a better detection and notification system for tracking small near earth objects:

While the United States was able to quickly determine the source of the explosion, India and Pakistan, as well as most other countries, do not have the resources available to distinguish whether an explosion's source is natural or man-made. Brigadier General Simon P. Worden, the U.S. Space Command's deputy director for operations at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, would like to change that.

Even larger yield small asteroids have come into Earth's atmosphere in the last 100 years:

"An object probably less than 100 metres in diameter struck Tunguska in Siberia in 1908, releasing the energy equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear blast," says Worden.

"In 1996, our satellite sensors detected a burst over Greenland equal to a 100-kiloton yield. Had any of these struck over a populated area, perhaps hundreds of thousands might have perished.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 September 25 12:52 PM 


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