Both the LA Times and the New York Times covered an 'impactor' scoring a direct hit on a comet deep in space last night. Both of them also described how the mission was a complete success. Both also discussed how it would enable scientists (including local scientists at JPL) to discover the make-up of a comet. Both papers also emphasized a secondary aspect of the story.
And therein lies our sad, sad story. First the New York Times:
An added reason to probe comets is that they, along with rocky asteroids, pose the threat of hitting the Earth and causing cataclysmic damage. Potential planetary defense requires knowing more about these objects in hopes of deflecting or destroying dangerous ones, experts say.
Pretty cool, huh? I know that was the first thing that popped into my mind - could this prove once and for all that we could stop a killer comet or asteroid from crashing into the earth - or was this just the stuff of science fiction. I mean, only the entire future of the human race depends on having this technology.
And now the LA Times:
"We want to understand how the inside is different from what we see from the ground," said Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, who proposed the mission and is in charge of it. "That will then allow us to understand what came to Earth from comets."
I mean this is a event that was actually partially orchestrated here - JPL in Pasadena - the science-fiction and film capitol of the world - and the LAT blows the one cool part of the story? They don't even ask - much less answer - the one - hell, the only - question that anyone hearing about his even would want to know?
WWW.MSN.COM has the news you really want to know about blowing up comets and saving planet earth!!
No danger to Earth
Collisions with objects such as comets and asteroids are thought to have sparked mass extinctions on Earth in the ancient past, including the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Scientists emphasized that Comet Tempel 1 poses no threat to Earth Â and that the Impactor blast, though spectacular, had essentially no effect on the comet's course. However, A'Hearn said the mission could represent one small step toward heading off a catastrophic cometary collision if and when the time came.
"The knowledge that comes out of this Â is important to understanding how to deflect a comet," he told reporters.So we haven't quite yet found how to stop a comet or asteriod from destroying earth - but at least now we know how to hit one and what happens when we do hit it.
I know I'll sleep easier tonight!