Our Earth has been hit before by asteroids and this will happen again someday. We are learning so much more about these asteroids, however we need to keep on learning, just in case an impending disastrous collision becomes eminent. It seems like all the movies have already been made, Deep Impact, Armageddon and so on, so I will take a different trajectory on this issue. This story is about the impact think tank, which is made up of three experts who mull over different scenarios in order to provide advice or even just an idea on how we need to handle specific situations.
Our three experts are all astrophysicists who have spent their entire lives ascertaining the true nature of the heavenly bodies. Today is important for all three members in this facility, because they have already met with military commanders last week to discuss their projects and now they will be receiving status feedback. They are all biting their nails and hoping that their particular project will be green lighted and if this is the case, how much of a budget expenditure it will get.
Dr. Chase Hunter will get his news first on the asteroid belt collection system that he proposed and next up will be Dr. Heidi From who detailed methods of handling public awareness concerns and finally Dr. Nicolaus Cupreous will find out about the asteroid mining mission which he anticipates will rake in millions. The think tank is located deep underground in an undisclosed bunker. Three generals and their protégés who carry their briefcases are already assembled in the conference room, drinking coffee and eating donuts. Armed guards wait outside for instructions.
The guards have been signaled to send Dr. Chase Hunter in. He enters and is told to take a seat at the table. General Mitch Leader asks Dr. Hunter, ‘So roughly how many asteroids are there in this belt between Mars and Jupiter?’ Dr. Hunter says, ‘That is an excellent question. Our best estimate is that this asteroid belt contains somewhere between one million to two million objects that are larger than three-fifths of a mile, in other terms being at least one kilometer in diameter along with millions of other smaller ones and least we forget, this belt holds more than 200 asteroids that are larger than 60 miles in diameter.’ General Frank Branch then says, ‘This asteroid belt collection system of yours sounds dangerous to me, can you guarantee that it will not make things more disastrous?’ Dr. Hunter says, ‘No I cannot make that promise, as my project is still in the early stages of development, but by grouping the space debris together with my collection system, I can assure you that it will make it a whole hell of a lot easier for us to track where they are headed.’ General Morey Banks said, ‘Keep doing your research as we have decided to fund you for another 5 years with two million dollars.’
The guards send Dr. Heidi From in next and General Leader asks her, ‘So the way I interpret your report is that in the event of an impending disaster, you feel it is best to keep the public in the dark as long as possible.’ Dr. From replies, ‘Yes because as the word gets out our society as we know it will collapse. People will stop going to work, there will be food shortages and in fact shortages on everything. If you declare martial law, the soldiers may not even show up for their duty. The world will never be the same and hiding this disastrous situation as long as we can is the only way that we will be able to maintain order.’ General Branch then says, ‘How long will we be able to keep this from the public?’ Dr. From answered, ‘That is something which I am still trying to determine, but my best estimate is that we can use disinformation to discredit anyone who tries to alert the public and we can most likely keep this from everyone up until two weeks before we meet our doom.’ General Banks said, ‘Your project is approved, keep working out the details and you will be funded for three years with $800,000.’
Finally Dr. Nicolaus Cupreous enters the room and General Leader asks, ‘Do you really expect your asteroid mining mission to rake in millions?’ Dr. Cupreous responds, ‘Yes if we identify the right asteroids to go after.’ General Branch says, ‘How long will it take to locate an asteroid and plan a mission and make the trip and do the mining and bring the payload back home? Dr. Cupreous says, ‘Well I am still hashing out the fine points, but with our current technology I expect this trip to take around 8 years once the proper target is identified.’ General Banks said, ‘OK we will fund your project for ten years and appropriate 12 million for your budget.’