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Space Debris

Forwarded from the Space Tech list-TWC-:

Date: 27 Dec 1995 17:30:32 GMT
From: earl@NeoSoft.com
Subject: End of the Earth

One of the topics that the anti space crowd has always pushed is what use
is space, we need the money here for my special project ----

Interesting enough the Doomsday argument (we need to go to another
star because everything is going to fall apart here) is actually true!

The dino killer, 65 megyr ago is estimated to have been a 10 km asteroid
hitting at 40 km/sec.  Recently military sources have acknowledged that
on average 1 object a year of 10-100 m size hits with roughly 10 KT
yield, exploding at roughly 40 km altitude. Although only having strength
of a snowball (most have strength of talc -talcum powder] the big ones
last an extra second (enough time to reach surface) and produce a Tunguska
style incident (100KT at 5 km airburst] or bigger.

One false image we have is that the stars are fixed in position in the
galaxy, the nearest at 4.2 ly.  A surprising study by JPL using observed
vectors of nearby stars shows that 6 stars will pass within 3 ly within
the next milion years.  A K5 (DM+61366] will pass within .29 ly in
815,000 yr.

Note that the Oort clouds extends .5 ly out from the sun and the visitor.
To say the least, it will be an interesting "near" collision, comets flying
all over the place!  This near collision which is coming with all the
certainty of astonomical motion, will probably not disturb the orbits of
the inner solar system (much!), but all the comets in both stars will shift
from a nice stable orbit into motion every which way -- ie down the throat
torpedo shots at Earth.  The chances of at least one good hit are very large.
But they would not be visible until within 2 yr of the sun so there is
little that could be done.

So we now have a max deadline (and I do mean DEAD) until life on Earth
as we know it ceases-- only 815,000 shopping years to build our starship
and leave!