Near-Earth Object (NEO) Hazard Background
- Mazanek, Daniel D.
- May 2005.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
Free-to-read Unrestricted online access
- The fundamental problem regarding NEO hazards is that the Earth and other planets, as well as their moons, share the solar system with a vast number of small planetary bodies and orbiting debris. Objects of substantial size are typically classified as either comets or asteroids. Although the solar system is quite expansive, the planets and moons (as well as the Sun) are occasionally impacted by these objects. We live in a cosmic shooting gallery where collisions with Earth occur on a regular basis. Because the number of smaller comets and asteroids is believed to be much greater than larger objects, the frequency of impacts is significantly higher. Fortunately, the smaller objects, which are much more numerous, are usually neutralized by the Earth's protective atmosphere. It is estimated that between 1000 and 10,000 tons of debris fall to Earth each year, most of it in the form of dust particles and extremely small meteorites. With no atmosphere, the Moon's surface is continuously impacted with dust and small debris. On November 17 and 18, 1999, during the annual Leonid meteor shower, several lunar surface impacts were observed by amateur astronomers in North America. The Leonids result from the Earth's passage each year through the debris ejected from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. These annual showers provide a periodic reminder of the possibility of a much more consequential cosmic collision, and the heavily cratered lunar surface acts a constant testimony to the impact threat. The impact problem and those planetary bodies that are a threat have been discussed in great depth in a wide range of publications and books, such as The Spaceguard Survey , Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, and Cosmic Catastrophes. This paper gives a brief overview on the background of this problem and address some limitations of ground-based surveys for detection of small and/or faint near-Earth objects.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20050186569.
Comet/Asteroid Protection System (CAPS): Preliminary Space-Based Concept and Study Results; 11-25; NASA/TM-2005-213758.
- No Copyright.
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