Oct 28, 2008 | 7
There really may be a planet Vulcan.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected two asteroid belts around Epsilon Eridani, the planetary system closest to ours and home to Star Trek's fictitious First Officer Spock, the space agency reported yesterday.
A planet near the inner asteroid belt was identified eight years ago. The newly spotted planet is in the vicinity of the outer belt.
Epsilon Eridani is around 10 light-years, or 62 trillion miles (98 trillion kilometers), away from Earth's solar system and, at a mere 850 million years old, is considered a younger, similar version of our own 4.5- billion-year-old system. Star Trek creators made it the home of Vulcan, and it's possible that there are as-yet-unseen Earth-like planets between the star system and its inner ring, astronomer Massimo Marengo of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told McClatchy Newspapers.
Sep 26, 2008
Scientists have proposed that the United Nations establish a global network of telescopes to track asteroids and comets at risk of hitting Earth—and, eventually, create a plan to deflect them and evacuate humans in their paths. The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) is set to deliver its recommendations to the U.N.'s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space when the panel meets in February. If the committee signs off on them, they would go to the General Assembly for final approval.
"The U.N. has 192 member states, and very few are aware of near-Earth objects," says Hans Haubold, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs. "We welcome this initiative, but it is up to the [U.N.'s] member states to decide what to do with it."
Sep 25, 2008 | 2
Doomsday from above is unlikely. But just in case, the U.N. should develop a warning network to detect, track and deter potentially planet-destroying asteroids and comets, a group of astronauts said today.
The Association of Space Explorers (ASE) says in a proposal that it's set to deliver to the U.N. early next year that the agency should develop a network of ground- or space-based telescopes to detect and keep tabs on near-Earth objects (NEOs). But the organization doesn't specify how approaching asteroids should be deflected or destroyed, nor how Earthlings should be alerted to the threat.
ASE is a member of Action Team 14, part of the U.N.'s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was created to deal with the threat of near-Earth objects. It is set to deliver the recommendations during the committee's 2009 sessions in Vienna, Austria.
Sep 25, 2008 | 4
This week's meeting of the U.N. Security Council and its discussions of international political and economic crises are grabbing headlines, but astronauts are having a powwow of their own about another global concern: how to protect Earth from an asteroid or cometary impact.
That's right: continental or global disaster from the cosmos isn't just the stuff of blockbusters like Armageddon and Deep Impact—and as far as we know, Bruce Willis and Elijah Wood aren't part of this week's meeting of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). Asteroid impacts have occurred before: a near-Earth object (NEO) became an on-Earth disaster 65 million years ago, wiping out dinosaurs and the majority of other species, and the 1908 Tunguska event, thought to have been caused by an exploding asteroid or comet, destroyed some 7,700 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of Siberian forest.
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