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#27503 - 07/25/09 10:15 PM Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector?
Nemesis Offline
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Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2175
Loc: US
For those of you who hadn't heard, Jupiter was recently nailed by an asteroid that left a so-called "scar" on the face of the gas giant, a scar roughly the size of our Pacific Ocean. That's massive. Jupiter is approximately 11 times the diameter of Earth. Some see this event as Jupiter "taking one for the team", others view the planet as more of a double-edged sword, since its gravitational pull can easily direct comets and asteroids in our direction that would otherwise not come close to us.

I thought it was a humbling and interesting article. We really need to start venturing out into space, like, NOW.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/weekinreview/26overbye.html

More information from news articles:
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-jupiter22-2009jul22,0,5215362.story

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/07/24/2008517.aspx
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#27507 - 07/25/09 10:42 PM Re: Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector? [Re: Nemesis]
6Satan6Archist6 Offline
stalker


Registered: 10/16/08
Posts: 2509
Interesting articles. My life almost came to an end the other day and I didn't even know it. Good thing Jupiter was there to take one for team. I am somewhat bothered that no one saw the asteroid, comet, or whatever it was that struck Jupiter. Although had Jupiter not been there; I don't think any advanced warning would help us much. With something that size we would only be able to place our heads firmly between our legs and kiss our collective asses good bye.

666th post. Hooray!
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#27510 - 07/26/09 01:23 AM Re: Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector? [Re: Nemesis]
Meq Offline
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active member


Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
According to Wikipedia's article on Jupiter, Jupiter's mass is less than one-thousandth of our Sun, and while this may be large enough to divert comets and asteroids in our direction, surely our Sun (itself much closer to us) would have a much greater gravitational pull on such space bodies in general (excluding the few which 'slingshot' round Jupiter)?

From what I've heard, vast sums of money (perhaps justly so) are already being spend on the exploration of our Solar System. The vast distance though is clearly a huge obstacle for any manned missions to that part of space (cryogenic sleep is still in the realm of science fiction) - although our technology may render manned missions less than strictly neccessary.

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#27544 - 07/26/09 01:02 PM Re: Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector? [Re: Meq]
Nemesis Offline
senior member


Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2175
Loc: US
The articles I posted links to mentioned that the gravitational pull from Neptune and Uranus tends to knock the odd asteroid from the Kuiper Belt. Some of these asteroids hit Jupiter, but occasionally Jupiter is in just the right spot that it pulls a passing asteroid in our direction. Luckily, Earth makes for a pretty small target! You're correct though, in that the Sun does the majority of the work in pulling it near us, but only once it gets past Jupiter or Mars. That far out in the solar system, the neighboring planets have more effect on detritus than the sun does.

We would need to start working on a fully autonomous and functional Moon base, that would begin to wean humanity off of Earth. If only a tiny colony were left on the Moon, it'd be better than having our entire species wiped out, and possibly the complete destruction of our planet (if something large enough hit it, that is).

Once we establish ourselves on the Moon, from there we can go to Mars. From Mars, the moons of Saturn and Jupiter await. Hell, we could even settle the asteroid belt, provided we found a large and stable enough chunk of rock with lots of minerals and metals to be mined to make it worthwhile. Granted it would take centuries, but at least we'd have a future. The technology is there, it's only a matter of funding and government cooperation that's holding us back.
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#27589 - 07/28/09 03:12 AM Re: Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector? [Re: Nemesis]
ZephyrGirl Offline
R.I.P.
active member


Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 706
Loc: Adelaide Australia
All the stuff they are starting to do privately in space is very exciting ATM, I think.

It will be interesting to see how the balance between government and private enterprise plays out. It is the new frontier, especially once they get to the policing of space questions.

Will some smart business (Richard Branson perhaps?) be at the front and therefore have the first Private Police Force.

Who will be the first mining company out there to really start laying down ownership of space. What war could be waged over the moon and mars, or will this unifiy the planet? And should it?

Exciting times indeed.

ZephyrGirl
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#27735 - 07/30/09 10:45 AM Re: Jupiter--Our Cosmic Protector? [Re: ZephyrGirl]
DistroyA Offline
member


Registered: 02/04/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK
Y'know, even though I found the phrase "Jupiter taking one for the team" highly amusing, it also makes me realise how lucky we are to have the gas giant in our solar system, and yet, 98% of society doesn't even give a shit about the rest of the solar system.

Dammit; now I'm in a geeky Space mood...

EDIT: I didn't read the whole of Nem's post and missed the part regarding Jupiter as a double edged sword. Concerning that, I personally think that only time will tell. It's the same kind of attitude concerning the LHC.


Edited by DistroyA (07/30/09 10:47 AM)
Edit Reason: Wanted to add more input on points that I missed
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