We look at the latest news on a possible ‘doomsday asteroid collision’ in this piece at The New Realist .
The Daily Mail reports that another US space agency is discussing a “doomsday asteroid collision”. The Space Sentinel Network is developing a space weather monitoring system, designed to detect a “doomsday asteroid collision event” in 2032. The project’s members include the US National Security Agency, CIA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, according to a research report from the National Security Council. The project is due to be funded in 20192022, reports the Daily Mail. According to The Guardian’s space coverage, the NASA report explains the project’s focus. “The space weather system will give an early warning if Earth experiences an event involving a solar flare that disrupts communications around the world.” The NASA report continues: “It combines several Earth-observing satellites with space-based observatories that collect light-curve measurements of solar surface temperatures and changes as the Sun passes through the Earth’s shadow.” The project “is to have space agencies and organizations that may not necessarily agree to collaborate with one another but can work quickly to share information and establish a coordination mechanism”. When a new solar storm passes the Earth and disturbs communications around the planet, a global network will be able to assess the impact. The project will provide crucial forecasts of a “doomsday asteroid collision” or an event similar to one during one of the most frequent solar flares. Solar flares are a frequent event that has knocked out communication systems. The space reports notes that a new space weather map designed to track such events is expected to be ready by next year. Although a NASA report indicates that the agency is not directly involved in the project, its researchers are not stopping there. In fact, they want the US government to support the initiative. “There is a general desire by the Federal government to fund efforts to improve the space weather modeling capabilities of nations,” says the report, “and we are encouraging the federal government to assist in the creation of an international project.” The Daily Mail adds that researchers are discussing the proposal to form a coordinating body, with the aim to develop and share results of the project. For more on the concept watch this story on The BBC .
The Daily Mail says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is not involved in the project but wants the government to provide support for it. The agency reportedly wants to develop a global space weather monitoring infrastructure. The Daily Mail reports: “Under the initiative, the government will provide funding and support for a European project called the Space Alert Network, which is working towards a space weather network.” The proposed network is made up of four observatory sites in the US: NOAA’s own Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, is the lead organisation, and NOAA will be another key element involved, according to the report, which adds: “The US government has been working on an international system, albeit in smaller scale, with European partners.” “On an annual basis, we have a number of space weather systems,” NASA’s Gavin Schmidt told the Guardian. “It would be a bit more complex to do a network of observatories in each jurisdiction.” The UK is also involved in research around space weather, through its Space Weather Research Organization.
The Guardian says that a group in Washington DC is talking with US counterparts over possible proposals to coordinate the global space weather warning system, adding that space agencies also talked about developing a new system they described as an “all-encompassing” system. The Guardian writes: “The aim is to have space agencies and organizations that may not necessarily agree to collaborate with one another but can work quickly to share information and establish a coordination mechanism”. The global network would be a big boost given that recent space events have impacted communications across the world, particularly in Asia, the Guardian suggests. We have been aware that a satellite and spacecraft had failed to react when a solar flare smashed into Earth on Sunday and that the system was not ready for the unexpected, says a security researcher. The researcher told BBC News the system could have been programmed against possible solar flares, which are now a rare event. “At the moment we don’t have any warning. We don’t know about any solar flares that would have had the potential to impact communications,” he said. “There is a chance we could have this system going anyway.” He added that one of the satellites was expected to operate over Europe the next week but did not provide any further details. The failure was not captured on television because it took place before the alerts were broadcast, the researcher said. He said the system was designed to be “the last line of defence”. What is more concerning is the lack of a warning, says the security researcher. “By default, there is nothing that can be done to stop the system from going off. There is no way to know whether there will be any warning before it happens,” he added. “For now, I can understand why [there is an emergency alert] because we now know there are people who could come