NASA launches Comet Buster Probe. Anyone worried?

Today NASA launched their state of the art never before seen Comet-Busting probe. They want to see what this huge cosmic iceball has in it’s insides…I just took my tin hat off so bear with me, but doesn’t this sound like a gargantuan misuse of government funds? Or are they testing something? I know nothing of cosmological research but this seems kind of far fetched to just see what is in the middle of that thing. Even if it does contain links to the beginnings of the universe.

That. Is. So. Cool!

I disagree that tings like this are a waste of money. Anything which increases our understanding of the universe and so forth.

From a purely academic point of view I agree with you Maus, however, I wonder how much the gov’t spends on things like this per annum.

It seems to me that this might be useful as a rehearsal. If they can land on or bust up a dirty iceball, surely they can land on or bust up a big-ass rock that was heading for the earth.

Being able to postpone our extinction might be more than academic.

As a first approximation, based on crunching the 2004 budget numbers from here, is that the entire NASA budget is less than 0.6% of the total. Given that the shuttle, the space station, aeronautics research, etc. are also going on, the pure science portion is going to be a fraction of that.

The cost of this mission is utterly miniscule compared to the cost of, say, putting new carpet in Senators’ offices year after year after year.

This is a criticall important scientific inquiry for a number of areas. Comets are among the most pristine samples of Original Water in our solar system. What will be revealed by this experiment could have profound implications for disciplines from astrophysics to biology.

Me, I think we should be doing a lot more things like this, not fewer.

Somebody tell Kel Varnsen that his window of opportunity is closing.

What does that have to do with what we are talking about here. Am I being wooshed?
I am all for spending for the benefit of science. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word gargantuan.

That’s for damn sure!

I wanted to subscribe to the trhread. Kel wanted his ex to get hit by a comet, the likelihood of which would be diminished were one to be carved up in the name of science. I made a joke and subscribed to the thread.

My apoligies if I took away from the discussion. Carry on.

Wow. This is worrisome.

What if the Comet People decide to retaliate?

If you don’t want to see links to the beginning of the universe, then yes, it’s a waste of money.

However, current astronomical theory says that most comets are actually remnants of the nebula that the Sun and Solar System formed from, pretty much unaltered. We know, currently, that this nebula had to have some remnants from a Generation I star, but there are a lot of questions about relative quantity of heavier elements, and isotope mixes, too. I don’t know what practical uses this will have, but I do accept that it is good basic research.

According to the press releaeses, the cost of the Deep Impact mission is $330 million. The cost of the Iraq war is estimated as $177 million per day. (That’s the number the Times Square billboard used, anyway.) Personally I think the comet probe is a more rewarding use of government funds.

Also, I believe NASA requires each project to spend a fraction of its budget for educational outreach. Admittedly it’s only a few percent and most projects just end up using it on a fancy web site, but it’s at least a tangible benefit anyone can take advantage of.

That would be great! Then we could extend our war-like proclivitys to outer space and the world would be forced to put aside its’ differences to fight the alien invaders. Cool!

I agree with you.

Nevertheless it’s clear that this money should be spent on the War against Drugs.
That’s far more effective than some ‘science project’.

Another voice in favor of investing in basic research!

Also, “Comet Buster” is typical media hyperbole. The plan is to hit it hard enough to create a crater & see what’s under the surface, but the comet is hardly going to be broken up.

Seems that the last spacecraft that finally got close enough to a comet nucleus to take picutres found it much, much darker than expected. Folks really wanna know if that’s just a dark crust, or what.

As described by The Planetary Society

In fact, if the dirty snowball is an even looser conglomerate than mainstream theory suggests, the projectile may blow right through the comet and come out the other side. Wouldn’t that be cool.

I’m sure some of the money is being used to train a team of the world’s greatest deep core drillers how to handle space flight. I think we learned what only seven days training can lead to.

I think it’s great.

My first though was “Watch them alter its course into an eventual earth colliding orbit”. Our country just seems to work that way.

Other than that I’m fine with it. Comet people here we come!

Well Comet Tempel1 is listed as roughly 6 km long and egg shaped. So let’s say it’s density is 10% that of water (ice) and can be modeled as a sphere 5 km in diameter. Total Mass: 6x10[sup]10[/sup] tonnes. The impactor weighs in a 0.37 tones. Unless we get really lucky there’s no chance the thing will blow up. Aside from that, any energy imparted to the comet from the experiment will be grossly overwhelmed by Jupiter’s influence on the comets’ subsequent orbits.

It’s damn clever when you think about it. You want a nice deep sample from a comet but you can’t land on it. What do you do? You punch a hole in it with a cannon ball. Neat!