The Asteroid Threat: Defending Our Planet from Deadly Near-Earth Objects (Paperback)
The explosion of a large meteor over Chelyabinsk, Siberia, in February 2013 is just the latest reminder that planet Earth is vulnerable to damaging and potentially catastrophic collisions with space debris of various kinds. In this informative and forward-looking book, veteran aerospace writer William E. Burrows explains what we can do in the future to avoid far more serious impacts from "Near-Earth Objects" (NEOs), as they are called in the planetary defense community. The good news is that humanity is now equipped with the advanced technology necessary to devise a long-term strategy to protect the planet. Burrows outlines the following key features of an effective planetary defense strategy:
* A powerful space surveillance system capable of spotting a serious threat from space at least twenty-five years in advance
* A space craft "nudge" that would throw a collision-course asteroid off target long before it poses the threat of imminent impact
* A weapons system to be used as a last-ditch method to blast an NEO should all else fail.
The author notes the many benefits for world stability and increasing international cooperation resulting from a united worldwide effort to protect the planet.
Combining realism with an optimistic can-do attitude, Burrows shows that humanity is capable of overcoming a potentially calamitous situation.
“Burrows has provided a compelling case for proactively dealing with Earth-impacting comets and asteroids. He describes the ongoing search for potential Earth impactors and the available mitigation options. His entertaining asides and anecdotes, along with his several diversions into science fiction books and Earth-disaster movies, help make this an interesting read from cover to cover.”
—Donald K. Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, author of Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them before They Find Us
“If we didn’t realize it already, Burrows makes clear in this excellent book that Chicken Little was right: the sky is falling. Earth is bombarded every day by thousands of small objects from space; mostly they go unnoticed, but occasionally there are larger impacts that cause considerable destruction. An impact at Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 is only the most recent one to remind us that we need to take action to protect our planet. Burrows lays out a compelling case for tracking near-Earth objects and developing strategies and technologies for mitigating this threat. He assures that planetary defense is a genuine possibility now and will become a reality in the near term.”
—Roger D. Launius, PhD, associate director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
“The Asteroid Threat will have you looking up—for threats to Earth from asteroids. In this well-written, globe-spanning story, Burrows ably relates the history and science behind cosmic impacts. Best of all is his prudent, practical plan to save humanity.”
—Tom Jones, shuttle astronaut, planetary scientist, and author of Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Memoir