This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

20 March 2006

Commentary on 2004 VD17, Risk Communication, and the "Purgatorio Ratio"

"Another impact scare, another risk communication mess. That is, in short, how one could sum up the latest developments in the saga of asteroid 2004 VD17."

"In the mean time, with nobody saying anything except that the Torino Scale value is two (and arguing about what this means, when it actually means nothing relevant at all), I fear that some NEO risk assessors have tied themselves into a knot."

"Thankfully, Brian Marsden has shed some light on these problems in his contribution further below. He also presents some new thoughts on the “Purgatorio Ratio”, an alternative NEO risk communication tool that aims to radically change the way information about asteroids with non-zero impact probabilities is assessed, organized, and communicated. I hope that the mess over 2004 VD17 will convince more members of the NEO community that the current risk communication system isn’t working properly and thus in urgent need of modification and improvement."

"a better—and more understandable—assessment of potential NEO hazards is provided by the ratio of the time interval spanned by the observations to the time remaining until the first possible impact date. For 2004 VD17 and the 2102 date, this “Purgatorio Ratio” (PR) is 0.014, increasing to 0.042 if one accepts the 2002 precovery observations and the 2102 threat continues to be valid. Even the 0.042 value is smaller than the PRs of 0.062 for (99942) Apophis in 2036 and 0.063 for (29075) 1950 DA in 2880. The next smaller values of PR are 0.022 for 2000 SG344 in 2068 and 0.011 for 2003 DW10 in 2046."

"Asteroid turns hot potato: when NEO risk communication becomes uncommunicative"
Benny Peiser
March 20, 2006


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