Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us
By Donald K. Yeomans
Why this book?
The subtitle of this book says it all. As a planetary scientist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Yeomans’ job was to plot the courses of known and newly-discovered NEOs – that is, asteroids and comets that in space terms come close to Earth’s orbit – and determine if and when they might be on a collision course with our planet. With more than 25,000 known NEOs orbiting around up there, it’s not an easy task. But Yeomans makes the crucial point: it’s not the space rocks we know about that pose the biggest threat, but rather the thousands and thousands of large near-Earth asteroids we don’t know about that are the greatest danger. It’s not like the movie Armageddon; it would take years to develop a space mission to deflect or destroy an incoming asteroid, so it’s crucial that we find and track them – as Yeomans says, before they find us.
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