From: B612 Foundation
Posted: Saturday, May 5, 2007
The technical report ("2006 Near Earth Object Survey and Deflection Study") backing up NASA's recent summary report to Congress on NEOs is now available on the B612 Foundation website (Note: be forwarned this is a 23 MB PDF download).
Along with this black & white scanned .pdf of the report there are two technical critiques of the report by Schweickart and Chapman and the Schweickart cover letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
B612 Foundation believes that openness and transparency on the NEO issue is critical to maintaining public confidence in those with responsibility for their safety. While NEO impacts occur very infrequently when they do the devastation can exceed that of any other natural hazard. Furthermore, with adequate warning NEO impacts can actually be prevented, unlike most other natural hazards.
NASA is an important player in the chain of responsibility for enabling the prevention of these infrequent devastating disasters. For this reason we believe that all information on this subject should be open to all for review. To date NASA has repeatedly refused access to this technical report, even to the professional community who contributed their technical inputs at NASA's request.
While the technical critiques posted stand on their own any further questions may be addressed to Rusty Schweickart at firstname.lastname@example.org or Clark Chapman at email@example.com.
1 May 2007
Mr. Michael Griffin
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E St. SW
Washington, DC 20546
I appreciate your willingness to have considered my independent analysis of alternatives for mitigation/deflection for meeting the Congressional directive to NASA embedded in the George E. Brown, Jr. Act of 2005.
I spoke briefly with Bill Claybaugh following the NASA review of my analysis and, as I feared there are still many unresolved differences. What is of greatest concern is not those aspects of the NASA Report where we find differences in judgment, but those elements which we believe to be technical errors in the NASA analysis.
Because we know that you are personally concerned with the technical excellence of the work that NASA does we are taking this opportunity to apprise you of a key set of examples of these issues. Our conclusion, given these technical errors is that the NASA reports (both the summary Report to Congress and the December 2006 Final Report) reach unsupportable and misleading conclusions and that they should be retracted or revised.
We believe, as you do, that the issue of protecting the Earth from NEO impacts is very important and that in the near future it will become more so due to the rapid acceleration in NEO discoveries sure to come at the beginning of the next decade under any of the NEO search scenarios. This issue is also of great interest to the international community and to people worldwide. As Chairman of the Association of Space Explorers Committee on NEOs I am currently leading a process to begin international efforts to prepare for the day a decision re a NEO deflection will be at issue.
For these and many other reasons we believe that openness and transparency are essential in dealing with NEO issues. Given this conviction it is our intention to publish both this letter and our specific technical issues with the NASA Report to Congress on NEO deflection alternatives (attached). We further urge you to make publicly available the full NASA Final Report, 2006 Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Study, published in December 2006, which forms the technical basis for the Congressional Report. This report, printed in 3 colors and bound with a glossy cover, despite claims to the contrary, appears, as it plainly states, to be a final NASA report. Other interested parties, such as those who responded to NASA's public call for abstracts for the Vail meeting (listed in Table 43 of the "Final Report"), should have an independent opportunity to judge for themselves the validity of the NASA conclusions and the strong challenges to them being made within the professional NEO community.
Russell L Schweickart
Chairman, B612 Foundation
Chairman, ASE Committee on NEOs
Attachment: Technical Critique of NASA's Report to Congress and associated 2006 Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Study: Final Report, December 2006
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