Illustrations vii Preface xi Acknowledgments xiii Chapter 1 Earth's Closest Neighbors 1 Chapter 2 The Solar System's Origin: The Classical View 15 Chapter 3 How and Where Do Near-Earth Objects Form? 29 Chapter 4 Near-Earth Objects as the Enablers and Destroyers of Life 47 Chapter 5 Discovering and Tracking Near-Earth Objects 57 Chapter 6 The Nature of Asteroids and Comets 79 Chapter 7 Nature's Natural Resources and the Human Exploration of Our Solar System 100 Chapter 8 Near-Earth Objects as Threats to Earth 109 Chapter 9 Predicting the Likelihood of an Earth Impact 125 Chapter 10 Deflecting an Earth-Threatening Near-Earth Object 140 References 155 Index of Asteroid and Cometary Objects 159 General Index 161
Donald K. Yeomans is a fellow and senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office and supervisor of the Solar System Dynamics Group. He is the author of "Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth, and Folklore".
Donald K. Yeomans, One of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people 2013 Winner of the 2013 Carl Sagan Medal, American Astronomical Society "Balancing the wonders of astronomy with the looming potential for an epic, planet-wide disaster, Yeomans, a fellow and research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explores the origins of near-Earth objects--asteroids, comets, meteors, and meteoroids--and the threat they can pose to our planet... Yeomans's book is an accessible and far-ranging primer on the science of near-Earth objects."--Publishers Weekly "As Earth creaks on its course around the Sun, it is exposed to a relentless barrage of asteroids and comets. Donald Yeomans, who manages NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, offers an introduction to the science of these lethal monsters, one of which may have seen off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and created the Chicxulub crater. Yeomans shows how the threats are balanced by potential boons, such as the theoretical delivery of the building blocks of life on Earth. Can these reeling masses even become interplanetary pitstops on the road to Mars?"--Nature "[Near Earth Objects] gives readers an inside account of the latest efforts to find, track and study life-threatening asteroids and comets."--ScientificAmerican.com's Observations blog "Near-Earth Objects is a fascinating tour guide of the asteroids we should worry about."--Marcus Chown, New Scientist "Despite its title, Near-Earth Objects offers a concise and informative overview of the formation of the entire solar system: why the planets differ, the latest theories on how they lined up and the origin of such leftovers as comets and asteroids. Yeomans also makes a good case that a near-Earth asteroid is an accessible target for our next space adventure, readying us for Mars and preparing us for a time when we might depend on them as a source of rare minerals."--Marcia Bartusiak, Washington Post "[C]ompact and readable... [Near-Earth Objects's] main goal is to invite readers to share a topic that is fascinating beyond its practical importance."--Fred Bortz, Dallas Morning News "[Yeomans's] book offers an excellent introduction to the layperson on near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), those objects that can potentially pass within about 29 million miles of Earth as they orbit around the sun... I highly recommend the book. Since it covers so many aspects of these fascinating asteroids, I found it comprehensive and a great read. While Yeomans covers a topic that some of us worry about, he provides the facts needed to stay cool yet informed."--Astro Bob blog "Yeomans makes it seem like we're uncomfortably close to an asteroid-induced apocalypse. Luckily, he has a sense of humor about it, and he has some sensible scientific solutions."--Sarah Rothbard, Slate.com "This is a superb book that brings the reader up-to-speed on those menacing denizens of the deep--Near Earth Objects, or NEOs for short. Moreover, this book is good bedtime reading for those that stay awake at night awaiting celestial calamity."--Leonard David, Coalition for Space Exploration "The book has an impressive from-the-horse's-mouth authority, yet it also has a pleasing, storytelling style, wry humour and some fun facts."--Hazel Muir, BBC Sky at Night "Sixty-five million years ago, a 10-km-wide asteroid slammed into Earth, killing off the dinosaurs. While that's the best-known Earth-asteroid collision, the truth is, space debris rains down on us all the time, notes Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office. He and other scientists are on a mission to track the largest asteroids that swarm around our planet, and his book is a behind-the-scenes look at how they do it--hopefully finding them before they find us."--Maclean's Bookmarked blog "Unlike many books involving space exploration I didn't get the feeling of fantasy, wishful thinking or sabre rattling. Yeomans just gives us good, reasoned arguments, presented in the main in a likeable, friendly fashion... [I]f you are interested in astronomy, the solar system or the survival of the human race, this is a book that should spark your interest."--Brian Clegg, Popular Science "This authoritative book, written in a lucid style well suited to intelligent laypersons, addresses this subject... [E]xcellent ..."--Choice