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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.
||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.
||I like the idea [+]. But how often is a meteor(ite) detected
before it enters the atmosphere? We had no advance
warning of Chelyabinsk.
||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-
||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.
||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.
||I think it would be a better idea to send owls.
||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
||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.