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Entries in Plans (2)

Monday
Feb182013

Russian Meteor: Close Encounters and Plans to Prevent Impacts

Chad Baker/Photodisc/Thinkstock(MOSCOW)-- As if Friday’s massive meteor explosion over central Russia weren’t enough, just hours later a large asteroid buzzed dangerously close to Earth.

And that evening, the California sky was lit up by a fireball, apparently entering Earth’s atmosphere.

It’s a barrage from space that has people asking: Are we ready for the big one?

Nearly 100 tons of space debris enters Earth’s atmosphere every day. Most of it burns up or falls harmlessly into the ocean, but experts still worry that eventually something big will come our way.

The prospect of Earth getting hit by a giant hunk of space rock is concerning enough that the United Nations is gathering top minds in Italy this week to discuss it.

Scientists say the idea of blowing up an asteroid — as Bruce Willis’ character did in the movie Armageddon — is pure Hollywood fantasy. Even if we could hit it, it’s unlikely to stop it.

Existing sky-watching programs run by NASA and others can only spot the biggest asteroids, not the small ones that sneak up on us.

But fear not, citizens of Earth. Scientists have a plan.

One group, the non-profit B612 Foundation, proposes sending a telescope, called Sentinel, into space to detect incoming objects decades before their orbits intersect ours. Then, unmanned spacecraft could fly to them and nudge them clear of Earth’s path.

The group is trying to raise $200 million to make it happen and hopes to launch the telescope by 2016.

Another project, proposed by the University of Hawaii, aims to give earthlings a heads-up when necessary, starting by 2015.

It is called the Atlas program, and the plan is to deploy a string of telescopes that would search for even smaller objects in the sky, hoping to be able to give people at least a few day’s notice that could allow time for an evacuation.

Until then, better keep Bruce Willis on speed dial.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Osama Bin Laden Raid: Al Qaeda 'Playbook' Revealed

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. intelligence is now in possession of a veritable "playbook" of al Qaeda operations -- from potential terror attack targets to information on international safe houses and top commanders -- thanks to the Navy SEAL raid that took down Osama bin Laden Sunday, officials told ABC News on Friday.

The cache of electronic and handwritten materials includes numerous hallmark al Qaeda plots including attacks on infrastructure targets such as water supply and transportation including rail and air. In the past, al Qaeda planned for attacks on water supplies have included an interest in mining dams and in poisoning water supply. In the days since the SEAL raid, intelligence experts have also have found what appears to be information about safe houses around the world and about al Qaeda leadership.

It is unclear just how active bin Laden was in coordinating any operations or in blessing overall strategies and plots. What is clear, officials said, is that intelligence analysts see weeks ahead of data mining and linking the cache of materials to past knowledge of plots that has come from detainees, cases and various forms of intercepts and surveillance.

While as yet no specific plots have been uncovered, there is a clear interest in attacks on the for most prominent U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The materials make clear that while at times in the past it has been suggested that dates are not a factor in Al Qaeda attack planning, in fact, one of the terror group's aspirations was to launch attacks on symbolic dates like Sept. 11, in hopes of giving even greater resonance to any success.

A bulletin issued Thursday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News describes the terror organization's chilling desire to derail a train on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time." Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio