This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 4, 2013

Saving Lives on Earth

Who could forget the indelible images of the disaster movies "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon"? In both films, humanity is saved from extinction by the brave actions of a few courageous men who either blow up or change the course of a giant asteroid that was on a collision course with planet earth.

Fast forward to today and part of President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget request for NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Administration) is the asteroid initiative. This worthwhile endeavor capitalizes on activities across the agency's human exploration, space technology, and science efforts. NASA is enhancing its ongoing efforts to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation, and to find potentially hazardous asteroids and other targets appropriate for capture. In its effort to collaborate with other like-minded innovators, NASA solicited and has selected proposals.

The Lifeboat Foundation submitted one of the five best proposals out of the 402 NASA received. Lifeboat is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements, while helping humanity survive various risks that threaten its very existence.

The Foundation proposed three project concepts to NASA:

The first is a joint NASA/Lifeboat Foundation media venture, beginning with public awareness through historical cinema; moving to a video/cinema competition format; concluding with a major effort to create a near-real-time, online gaming effort fed by actual tracking data, while including components of science fiction and competition.

The second is a new competition venue similar to other current NASA efforts. This competition would target garage innovators, the Hackerspace/Maker community, and universities. A tiered set of goals would challenge participants to begin with simulated asteroid ore, and eventually produce finished components.

The third activity would leverage many existing NASA pathways into the public, by adding Asteroid Initiative goals into currently sponsored events such as Odyssey Of The Mind and FIRST Robotics. (We have covered the FIRST initiative in a number of previous Herman Trend Alerts.)

The proposal covered aspects of multi-purpose, cooperative missions within and outside of NASA with the unmanned asteroid retrieval mission as the initiator. The focus of this unmanned mission uses retrieved asteroidal materials as radiation shielding for crew habitats at proposed space logistics stations.

Look for governments worldwide to create more of these public-private partnerships to mine the collective intelligence among people and direct it to solve major challenges facing humanity.


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