NASA tests ability to defend Earth from asteroids – National & International News – THU 25Nov2021 – Happy Thanksgiving!

NASA has launched a test to see if it can alter the course of dangerous asteroids.



Pentagon boosts aid to combat food and housing insecurity among the ranks. NASA tests ability to defend Earth from asteroids. Sudan: Protesters demand full return of civilian rule after coup.




NASA tests ability to defend Earth from asteroids

NASA has begun a test of its capabilities to safely alter the course of large asteroids like Apophis which may one day pose a danger to Earth. This week, the agency launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (or DART) to see whether it could successfully alter the orbit of a near-earth sub-planetary body. The mission is to execute a controlled crash of a small spacecraft into an asteroid to “nudge” it into a different orbit.

The DART group has chosen a binary system of asteroids, targeting the asteroid Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms), which orbits the larger asteroid Didymos (Greek for “twin”). The goal is to slightly alter the course of Dimorphos without affecting the larger Didymos.

Twice each year, Earth passes through the Taurus asteroid belt. During this passage, observers on Earth witness the glorious spectacle of the Taurid meteor showers. But while most of the Taurid bodies are small and innocuous, the belt also contains larger bodies which could present a real danger to Earth. Earth strikes by bodies from this belt have been connected with extinction-level events in the past. 

NASA has mapped about 90% of the potentially hazardous near-earth bodies in our solar system. With sufficient warning, NASA hopes that it can push these bodies into safer orbits using the knowledge they will gain from the DART experiment. 

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In other space news, the Pentagon is establishing a UFO task force (click here for the story).


Pentagon boosts aid to combat food and housing insecurity among the ranks

According to aid organizations, as many as 160,000 American service members are now struggling to feed their families.  Junior enlisted personnel are having the hardest time, with about one-third struggling to afford basics like food and housing. All in all, 14% of all active duty military personnel are suffering food insecurity. Compare that with 9.4% of adults in the general U.S. population who have reported having insufficient food in the last week.

The problem is particularly acute for service members stationed in high income areas. During the pandemic, the price of renting off-base housing has risen steadily. This has left many junior personnel supporting a family on a single income without affordable housing options. 

Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon would temporarily increase housing allowances for troops living in 50 high-cost areas across the country. On the legislative end, the defense bill currently before Congress includes a boost to basic needs allowances for service members.

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Sudan: Protesters demand full return of civilian rule after coup

Protesters in Khartoum, Sudan, are calling for a real return of civilian government following a military coup last month. After initial unrest, the military leadership reinstated the country’s prime minister. However, the military leadership did not actually step aside. Instead they have entered a tenuous power-sharing situation with the civilian government. Protesters say this is not enough and are demanding that the military fully restore civilian governance.

Many of the civilian leaders the military arrested last month remain in detention. The protesters’ are also suspicious of the civilian leadership who have signed onto what many see as a purely cosmetic restoration of democracy.

It was only in 2019 that a popular uprising led to the ouster of long-time military dictator Omar Al-Bashir. During that revolution, elements of the military actually sided with the people. But pro-Bashir factions still remain, and the balance seems to have tipped in their favor. Prior to 2019, Sudan had not had a civilian-led government since 1989, and even that was short-lived.

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