EarthGrid is a Union of Everett NASA designed space program operated by an agency of the Department of Disaster Management. EarthGrid operates as an ever-growing asteroid, comet and meteor (ACM) defense grid which searches for, logs and tracks space debris and natural cosmic objects that pose a threat to the planet Earth. EarthGrid utilizes a series of "local space telescope and radar" (LSTR) satellites and unmanned spacecraft which search for uncharted space debris. Actively known space debris is also logged and constantly monitored on their paths and orbits and their potential level of danger to life on Earth.
EarthGrid coordinates planetary security between NASA, the Department of Disaster Management and the Department of Defense for the ability to respond to a potential threat and advert that threat accordingly. Additional coordination may be authorized with foreign space programs, most commonly the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federation.
As of 2013, some 21 LSTR satellites are in operation throughout Earth's "immediate planetary neighborhood", which consists of Earth itself, Earth's moon, Mars and Venus and a radius of 15 million miles around each planet, covering an area of some 30 million miles per the three planets. Three unmanned drone spacecraft are also used to intercept space objects of interest for study and the Everetti NASA program's Expedition class Shuttle is utilized in manned missions on occasion.
EarthGrid was initially proposed as part of a theoretical defense system for the Union of Everett in 2004, as the military's plans for further development of the then United States Ballistic Missile Defense (BMDO). Although the Planetary Defense System was chosen for development rather than several other proposals, the passing of several near-Earth objects between 2007 and 2008 forced an executive discussion regarding the ability to intercept and stop potential cosmic debris collisions with Earth.
NASA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security proposed several ideas based on current PDS technology and capabilities, proposing the ability to intercept with a series of systems, similar to Everetti SDI technology against ballistic weapons. Official proposals accepted were to include the rapid development and deployment of several initial defenses, including a series of space telescopes and radars designed to search for and monitor nearby objects such as asteroids, meteors and comets. A PDS satellite system is also included in development plans for the destroying of small sized meteors that threaten orbiting satellites, space craft, space stations or may impact Earth and induce damage upon impact. Unmanned drone interceptors, remotely controlled by humans, would be included to travel out to an asteroid to attach to, and re-direct, an asteroid's path away from Earth. Manned interception was proposed, utilizing a new class of manned spacecraft shuttles, capable of travelling to and intercepting asteroids and comets, for the purpose of manned demolition or deflection. An additional proposal included the use of orbiting railguns capable of firing a guided railgun warhead at speeds in excess of 100,000 miles per hour, to slam into an asteroid or object and deflect its path.
As of 2013, EarthGrid is partially active, with 21 satellites maintained by NASA and controlled by the Department of Disaster Management. The 21 satellites are "local space telescopic radar" systems which maintain a constant surveillance of some 25,000 space objects within 30 million miles around the planet Earth and its moon and a total local interplanetary regions covering most of the inner-solar system, including Venus, Earth, the moon and Mars. By 2016, another 25 to 35 LSTR satellites will be deployed for full coverage of the inner-solar system and the entire asteroid belt, which revolves around the sun, between Mars and Jupiter. In addition, as of present, three unmanned remote drone spacecraft are used in both prototype testing and active EarthGrid defense against near-Earth objects as well as the availability of three Expedition class Exploration Shuttles, manned by human astronauts, for the purposes of asteroid, comet and meteor (ACM) study and testing interception and deflection missions of near-Earth objects.
Local Space Telescopic Radar
Local Space Telescopic Radar is an advanced space object monitoring array of satellites. LSTR satellites are infrared-wavelength astronomical space telescopes which monitor and photograph images of space objects using varied infrared UV wave-lengths to detect objects and their reflection of light from the sun. Each LSTR satellite monitors in extreme high definition, taking images of objects in over 1.5 giga-pixels, equivalent of 1.5 billion pixels in clarity. LSTR satellites contain a series of different tools for photographing space objects including its primary infrared-wavelength system, ultraviolet astronomic telescopes, radio astronomic systems and high energy astronomic detection systems.
In comparison with the United States WISE space telescope, EarthGrid's LSTR constellation has detected some 1.2 million space objects, ranging in size from basketballs to city size objects in excess of 30 miles in diameter. Of the current 21 LSTR satellites active, five of them are capable of tracking objects as far as the orbital paths of Pluto and Neptune, specifically intending to detect objects which could induce catastrophic damage to the planet Earth during an impact, essentially objects in excess of one quarter mile in diameter, allowing a long-term response for interception and preparation to deflect or destroy the threatening object.
The LSTR constellation also allows the constant, active monitoring of already known objects, which NASA monitors some 5.3 million known objects within the local Solar System.
The EarthGrid project currently has seven unmanned remote drone spacecraft used to intercept near-Earth objects for close-up study, chemical scans and sample retrieval for the purpose of studying the composition of asteroids and comets. These unmanned space vehicles (USV) are capable of launching up to 150,000 miles per hour with fusion ion propulsion on an intercept path with a designated object. The current USV vehicles are capable of attaching to an asteroid, comet or meteor with rail-gun fired tethers, which lock into the rocky surface of the object and then tow itself into the object and attach. Using this method of attachment, the USV is capable of firing off nuclear ion bursts, allowing the vehicle's thrust to deflect the asteroid, comet or meteor onto a new path.
Tools aboard the USV include drills for boring holes into the objects rocky composition and taking core samples for study aboard the spacecraft and sensors for detecting dust and materials which follow the object's gravitational pull, as a comet would. Onboard devices include a chemical camera, combining two instruments as one: a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and a Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope, with the purpose of the LIBS instrument to provide elemental compositions of rock and soil, while the RMI will give scientists high-resolution images of the sampling areas of the rocks and soil that LIBS targets. An Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) irradiates samples with alpha particles and map the spectra of X-rays that are re-emitted for determining the elemental composition of samples. A Chemistry and Mineralogy X-ray powder diffraction and fluorescence instrument is a spectrometer used to identify minerals composed within an asteroid or comet. The Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons is a pulsed sealed-tube neutron source and detector for measuring possible hydrogen or ice and water presence. As well, a radiation assessment detector (RAD) is included to measure any radioactivity.
Unmanned interceptors are completely unarmed, only designed for the purpose of scientific research and object path re-direction. The use of weapons to destroy or deflect an object is designated for human manned missions or future proposed interception technology.
EarthGrid manned interception is both an active and still in testing operation in which humans are sent via the Expedition class Shuttle to intercept and perform missions on space objects. As of 2013, one manned mission had been authorized for Expedition Shuttles to intercept, study and then re-direct asteroids and space objects. Generally, manned interception missions are for the purpose of re-directing large space objects too complex for an unmanned space drone. In May of 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2, with a diameter of 1.9 miles, capable of inducing a extinction level event on Earth, was intercepted by the Expedition shuttle Solaris, samples were taken, scans performed and the asteroid was re-directed on an orbital path in which it would collide with the Sun. The interception occurred at a distance from Earth of 3.6 million miles.
Just as with the unmanned drones, manned Expedition Shuttles are provided a series of high tech tools and devices for the purpose of studying without the need for space walks by human astronauts. Training for astronauts to actually conduct space walks and walking on the surface of an asteroid or comet is expected to continue for several years before common interception and space walks are authorized.
The Expedition Shuttles are retrofitted to receive additional exterior cargo in the event a weapon or tool of specific type is necessary during an intercept to destroy a threatening asteroid. Weapons proposed by the Department of Defense include fusion warheads or other weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of breaking up an exceptionally large space object to make deflection easier.
Armed Defense Proposals
While several armed defenses have been tested by EarthGrid, proposals to destroy a threatening ACM on a collision course with Earth have included surface-to-orbit four-stage ICBMs, lasers, rail-gun ram weapons, ram spacecraft, manned landing and demolition and automated droid drone weapons.
Four-Stage Ballistic Missile
A surface-to-orbit four-stage ICBM, capable of launching to space and then firing off a fourth-stage fusion ion engine to fire a warhead to intercept an asteroid, acquire the correct angle and then rail-gun fire a fusion warhead into the object to deflect or destroy it. The blast of the fusion warhead, in addition to its ramming into the object, would deflect its path away from Earth.
A spacecraft utilizing a fusion ion burst thruster would achieve a high speed and acquire a path directly into an ACM target, using its kinetic force alone, slam into the object and knock it off course. The kinetic impact spacecraft has been tested by the United States Deep Impact mission, using an 820 pound copper projectile fired at 23,000 miles per hour to slam into the side of comet 9P/Tempel. Although the impact spacecraft only shifted the comet's path by four inches, the test proved that stronger devices could be used to increase the path change, giving future projects the go ahead in the Union of Everett.
A spacecraft with a fusion plasma weapon aboard could be used to burn away an object and break down its makeup. The plasma would be hot enough to cut through rock and ice, breaking up a large ACM and vaporize its resulting debris.
Similar to a kinetic impact spacecraft, an orbiting satellite could be armed with rail-gun fired, heavy weight rods which could be aimed and fired at high velocity into a smaller ACM and destroy it or knock it off course and away from an impact with Earth. A kinetic rail-gun weapon would be used to shoot down or divert ACMs with the equivalent strength of the 1908 Tunguska impact or the 2012 Chelyabinsk meteorite impact, which if not broken up or diverted, could impact a major city and decimate it.
PDS Style Orbital Defenses
A Planetary Defense System style satellite constellation which would orbit the Earth at 450,000 miles, could be utilized for targeting and destroying small ACMs on impact courses with Earth or space stations, satellites or spacecraft. The PDS style satellites could similarly fire plasma toroids of large size at smaller space objects and destroy or break them up. The plasma would in addition, be hot enough to vaporize small debris.
Manned Landing & Demolition
A last resort proposal for diverting or destroying an ACM of large size, those in excess of a mile in diameter, would be to send human astronauts and assist drones to plant explosive devices and weapons into the ACM object and demolish it. The use of boring drills and plasma bore lasers to make holes for placement of fusion or nuclear weapons to break up an asteroid into smaller chunks is possible. The remaining smaller chunks could be re-directed or destroyed more easily individually than to re-direct an ACM over a mile wide.
L.A.I. Automated Drones In Space
Similar to drones used current by the Union of Everett for military, law enforcement, emergency rescue and construction assistance today, space drones, designed to intercept and re-direct small ACM threats could be developed. Such drones could join as assistance aboard the International Space Station to divert meteors that could impact the station, as well as drones that could be deployed by LSTR satellites or by other proposed armed defenses.
List of EarthGrid Interceptions
The following is a listing of EarthGrid interception of asteroids, comets and meteors. Threat numbers are based on the Torino Scale near-Earth object rating system.
|2010 RX30||0||Sept 8, 2010||36 Ft||154,000 Mi||Destroyed||Destroyed via kinetic impact rocket fired from Shuttle Atlantis.|
|2010 RF12||0||Sept 2010||21 Ft||49,000 Mi||Destroyed||Destroyed via PDS plasma blast.|
|C/2010 X1||0||April-May 2011||2.5 Mi||21,730,000||Redirected Path||Redirection caused Comet Elenin to break up and disintegrate prior to set course to impact Sun.|
|2012 XE54||0||December 11, 2012||120 Ft||140,000 Mi||Destroyed||Destroyed via kinetic impact rocket fired from Shuttle Solaris.|
|367943 Duende||1||February 15, 2013||92 Ft||17,200 Mi||Destroyed||1 in 3,030 of chance impacting Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069. Destroyed via PDS plasma blast.|
|2013 ET||0||March 9, 2013||330 Ft||606,000 Mi||Destroyed||Object was destroyed via harpoon rocket detonator test.|
|1998 QE2||0||May 31, 2013||1.7 Mi||3,600,000 Mi||Research Interceptor|
|C/2012 S1||0||Dec 26, 2013||2600 Ft||40,000,000 Mi||Research Interceptor||Comet ISON was mostly destroyed by the Sun prior to passing Earth.|
|2000 EM26||0||Feb 18 2014||890 Ft||1,700,000 Mi||Redirected Path||Redirection will cause object to collide with Sun.|
|2007 VK184||1||May 23, 2014||430 Ft||3,000,000 Mi||To Be Destroyed||1 in 1820 chance (0.055%) of impacting Earth on June 3, 2048.|
|C/2013 A1||6||October 2014||1-31 Mi||9,100 Mi||Proposed Deflection||Object threatens Mars. Catastrophic destruction to NASA Mars operations. Possible evac.|