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Addressing Comet Threats to Our Planet Security

Published onJun 01, 2020
Addressing Comet Threats to Our Planet Security

A case is made for space telescopes stationed near the Sun. Due to outgassing of mass (sublimation) and gravitational forces, all comets change orbits when near the Sun. The inbound leg of a comet’s elliptical orbit when approaching the Sun will thus be different than its path when outbound, only weeks later. Yet a comet on its inbound leg is easiest to watch but virtually impossible to mitigate by conventional means. And, when that same comet is on its outbound leg, it is hardest to predict the new orbit due to solar glare; she is unlikely to be seen from Earth-based telescopes early enough for a non-panic mitigation. Comets thus present a paradox and an opportunity. By stationing space telescopes near the Sun, a dangerous Earth-threatening comet would be more likely to be seen and assessed. Such a comet will be easier to mitigate by conventional methods under a long warning, were Earth-impact to be forecast on its return to the Sun, decades later. If Earth is threatened during the outbound comet’s solar departure, it can still be mitigated under a short warning, possibly employing nuclear methods.

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