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FINDING HAZARDOUS ASTEROIDS Using Infrared and Visible Wavelength Telescopes Committee on Near Earth Object Observations in the Infrared and Visible Wavelengths Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences A Consensus Study Report of
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESSâ 500 Fifth Street, NWâ Washington, DC 20001 This activity was supported by Contract No. NNH17CB02B with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-49398-7 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-49398-6 Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25476 Cover illustration by Timothy Warchocki. Unlike this symbolic depiction of a telescope detecting asteroids, actual asteroid detections of asteroids only show points of light or streaks, and do not resolve the asteroidâs shape. Copies of this publication are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this publication are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2019 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Finding Hazardous Asteroids Using Infrared and Visible Wavelength Telescopes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25476.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Con- gress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the char- ter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.
Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the studyâs statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typi- cally include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committeeâs deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task. Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies. For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.
COMMITTEE ON NEAR EARTH OBJECT OBSERVATIONS IN THE INFRARED AND VISIBLE WAVELENGTHS H. JAY MELOSH, NAS,1 Purdue University, Chair ALAN W. HARRIS, German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research BHAVYA LAL, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute LUCY McFADDEN, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Emerita) MICHAEL MOMMERT, Lowell Observatory GEORGE RIEKE, NAS, University of Arizona ANDREW RIVKIN, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory DANIEL J. SCHEERES, NAE,2 University of Colorado, Boulder EDWARD TEDESCO, Planetary Science Institute Staff DWAYNE A. DAY, Senior Program Officer, Space Studies Board, Study Director SARAH C. BROTHERS, Associate Program Officer, Space Studies Board ANESIA WILKS, Program Coordinator, Space Studies Board DIONNA WISE, Program Coordinator, Space Studies Board PHOEBE KINZELMAN, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern COLLEEN HARTMAN, Director, Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board 1 Member, National Academy of Sciences. 2 Member, National Academy of Engineering. v
SPACE STUDIES BOARD MARGARET KIVELSON, University of California, Los Angeles, Chair JAMES H. CROCKER, NAE,1 Lockheed Martin (retired), Vice Chair GREGORY P. ASNER, NAS,2 Carnegie Institution for Science JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant ADAM BURROWS, NAS, Princeton University MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research VICTORIA HAMILTON, Southwest Research Institute CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory STEPHEN J. MACKWELL, Universities Space Research Association DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, University of Toronto HARLAN E. SPENCE, University of New Hampshire MARK H. THIEMENS, NAS, University of California, San Diego ERIKA WAGNER, Blue Origin PAUL WOOSTER, Space Exploration Technologies EDWARD L. WRIGHT, NAS, University of California, Los Angeles 1 Member, National Academy of Engineering. 2â Member, National Academy of Sciences. vi
Acknowledgment of Reviewers This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Lance A.M. Benner, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, William F. Bottke, Southwest Research Institute, Joshua P. Emery, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Yanga Fernandez, University of Central Florida, Mikael Granvik, University of Helsinki, Finland, and LuleÃ¥ University of Technology, Sweden, Alan W. Harris, MoreData! Inc., Ellen Howell, Arecibo Observatory, Zeljko Ivezic, University of Washington, Harold Reitsema, Independent Consultant, Irwin I. Shapiro, NAS,1 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Grant H. Stokes, NAE,2 MIT Lincoln Laboratory, George W. Sutton, NAE, Analysis and Applications, Inc., and Faith Vilas, Planetary Science Institute. 1 Member, National Academy of Sciences. 2 Member, National Academy of Engineering. vii
viii ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REVIEWERS Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Steven J. Battel, NAE, Battel Engineering, Inc. He was respon- sible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
Preface In summer 2018, NASAâs chief scientist asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medi- cine to establish a study to address the issue of the relative advantages and disadvantages of infrared and visible observations of near Earth objects (NEOs). NASA has had an NEO observation program for nearly two decades using ground-based telescopes to search the night sky for NEOs that are large enough to cause major damage if they impact Earth. Since 2005, NASA has been guided in its search by the requirements of the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act. In recent years, NASA has used a space-based telescope to aid in its NEO search and has studied the possibility of using a dedicated space-based telescope to continue this work. This report of the Committee on Near Earth Object Observations in the Infrared and Visible Wavelengths addresses the space-based telescope subject while acknowledging that there are many larger issues associated with detecting, tracking, and characterizing NEOs. ix
Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 7 Impacts and the Tsunami Threat, 10 Characterizing Asteroids, 10 The Nationâs Response to the NEO Impact Threat, 11 2 THE COMPONENTS OF PLANETARY DEFENSE 14 Orbit and Velocity, 15 Mass, 15 Density and Other Characteristics, 16 Other Factors: Time Scale, Complementarity, and Cost, 18 The Role of Science in NEO Surveys, 19 3 CURRENT AND NEAR-TERM NEO OBSERVATION SYSTEMS 20 NEO Observation Assets: Past, Present, and Near Future, 20 Projections for LSST, 22 4 THE ADVANTAGES OF SPACE-BASED INFRARED PLATFORMS 28 Space-Based Visual Wavelength Telescopes, 30 Cost of Space Telescopes, 33 Test of Feasibility of a Space-Based Infrared Telescope, 33 Conclusion, 34 5 TECHNIQUES TO OBTAIN NEO SIZES 35 The Development of Asteroid Thermal Modeling, 36 The Near Earth Asteroid Thermal Model, 37 Reflected Solar Radiation, 39 Remarks on Accuracy, 40 Conclusion, 40 xi
xii CONTENTS 6 THE ROLE OF ARCHIVAL DATA 41 7 IMPACT HAZARDS NOT EXPLICITLY CONSIDERED BY THE GEORGE E. BROWN, JR. ACT 44 Jupiter-Family and Long-Period Comets, 44 Objects with Diameters Less Than 140 Meters, 44 Interstellar Objects, 46 APPENDIXES A Letter of Request 49 B Studies of the Accuracy of the Near Earth Asteroid Thermal Model 51 C Advantages and Disadvantages of Ground- and Space-Based Options for Infrared and Visible Observations of Near Earth Objects 54 D Committee and Staff Biographical Information 56 E Acronyms 60