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.

29 June 2008

Russians Contend that Phobos Grunt Mission Can Be Altered into Apophis Radio Beacon Mission

Selections from the article...

Russian scientists think a space probe should plant a radio beacon on the asteroid Apophis to determine whether it's going to impact Earth, a conference report said Friday.

The report also conjectured that the Russian Phobos-Grunt spacecraft presently scheduled to be launched in 2009 could accomplish that mission with only slight payload changes, but that its launch would have to be delayed until 2012 to make a rendezvous with Apophis.

Such an Apophis impact "could lead to an area equal to France turning into a desert," said Alexander Simonov, one of the authors of the Russian report, in an understatement of the level of global destruction that would be unleashed by a meteor strike of that magnitude.

The report said that even the largest of ground-based radio telescopes cannot discern the orbit of Apophis with the required precision, so one potential solution would be to plant a radio beacon on the asteroid that could permit radio astronomers to determine its orbit within an accuracy of "tens of meters. " That would reveal whether Apophis will hit Earth.

"We propose the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft... as a platform for this mission," the report said. Phobos-Grunt is a planned Russian sample return mission to the Martian moon Phobos. Designed starting in 2001, Phobos-Grunt is currently scheduled for launch in 2009. If the spacecraft's mission is amended to rendezvous with Apophis, the report said its launch should be delayed to May 13, 2012, and the flight is expected to take 330 days.

"Russians offer to track asteroid threat"
Egan Orion
London Inquirer
28 June 2008

Link: London Inquirer Article

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