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Meteor(ite) Science Ballistic Missile

  [vote for,

When a major meteor(ite) such as the one that hit Chelyabinsk the other year is detected, an intercontinental ballistic missile is launched. The ICBM is needed to get to anywhere on Earth within an hour or so after the meteor(ite) arrives. At the same time, a phone call is made to the nuclear war hotline of the country in whose airspace the meteor(ite) entered, to advise them that this is not an attack. This is because the ICBM carries not a warhead but rather an instrumented glider or parachute-descending module (or perhaps multiple of these). The instruments include a mass spectrometer, plasma instruments, and a dust collector. Once the missile arrives at the location on Earth where the meteor(ite) entered the atmosphere, the glider or parachute descender descends through the same air that the meteor(ite) did and performs science on it. This should tell us some things about the meteor(ite), such as its composition, especially in cases where it is not a meteorite and we therefore have little other way to get such knowledge than spectrometry and airplanes (which both might not react fast enough). The data collected by the automated instruments is transmitted as the probe descends, but to retrieve the collected dust for lab analysis, the probe itself must be retrieved. This gives the receiving country exclusivity on that scientific data (until their scientists have gotten as much head start as they want), as an incentive to not be upset about an ICBM being launched at them.

N/A [2019-02-26]

notexactly, Feb 27 2019


       I think that unless you can get your air sample from the meteor's track within a few seconds of its arrival, you're not going to learn much.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2019

       I like the idea [+]. But how often is a meteor(ite) detected before it enters the atmosphere? We had no advance warning of Chelyabinsk.
scad mientist, Feb 27 2019

       I think there was a meteorite impact in Africa a while ago that was predicted something like a few hours in advance. It was quite a small one (maybe Chelyabinsk size), hence the last- minute detection.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2019

       I think even if it's only detected when it explodes and breaks windows, and the missile arrives an hour later, there will still be detectable elements in the upper atmosphere from it having vaporized during entry.
notexactly, Feb 27 2019

       Possibly. On the other hand, if it's a decent chunk of stuff, why not just mosey by and dig the pieces out of the ground? I believe they found pieces of the Chelyabinsk [damn, why doesn't the HB allow Cyrillic characters?] meteorite.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2019

       I think it would be a better idea to send owls.
Ian Tindale, Feb 28 2019

       Spend a bit more and knock it off course while in space? An armada of fast-spinning space telescopes might be able to cover at least some territory.
RayfordSteele, Mar 01 2019

       A telescope production line would would have a totally different meaning. Edwin, the nostalgically named robotic work station, would be working at maximum input/output.
wjt, Mar 02 2019


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