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Wrong Jay Melosh?

Dr. Jay Melosh

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Background Information

Employment History

Planetary Geologist

University of Arizona


University of Arizona

Professor of Planetary Sciences

University of Arizona

Professor and Deep Impact Science Team Member

University of Arizona Regents

Professor of Planetary Sciences

University of Arizona Regents

Web References (192 Total References)

When the eruption ends and the ... [cached]

When the eruption ends and the lava flow stops, the pipe drains leave behind a hollow tunnel, said Jay Melosh, a Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences who is involved in the research.

"There has been some discussion of whether lava tubes might exist on the Moon," he said.
"Some evidence, like the sinuous rilles observed on the surface, suggest that if lunar lava tubes exist they might be really big," said Melosh.

"This is one of the biggest ... [cached]

"This is one of the biggest craters on the moon, but no one knew it was there," explained researcher leader Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of Earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue.

When planetary scientist H. Jay ... [cached]

When planetary scientist H. Jay Melosh attended a meeting between nuclear weapons designers from the United States and the former Soviet Union in May 1995, he was surprised by how eagerly the ex-Cold Warriors sought to work together against an unlikely but dangerous extraterrestrial threat: asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

"It was a really bizarre thing to see that these weapons designers were willing to work together-to build the biggest bombs ever," said Melosh, a geophysicist at Purdue University and expert in space impacts who has an asteroid named after him.
Ever since, he has been pushing back against relying on nuclear bombs for the Earth's defense, arguing that a non-nuclear solution-diverting the trajectory of asteroids by hitting them with battering rams - is both possible and much less dangerous.
Melosh said Dearborn "is reasonable, he tends to be pretty persuasive, he comes across as not being a rabid advocate of nuclear weapons for their own sake.
Melosh and Dearborn disagree, with Melosh asserting that since no large, Earth-killing, near-term threats are on the horizon, "the remaining smaller objects can be dealt with by non-nuclear means, kinetic detection being the most straightforward" and technically advanced.
"I think that the need for deflecting very large objects that might require nuclear detonations is waning and that a reevaluation of realistic needs is very much in order," Melosh said.
But the report also supported Melosh's approach, ramming an asteroid with a heavy object.
Melosh also served on the National Research Council panel, but says he disagreed with some of the report's conclusions. He was the co-investigator on a 2005 NASA mission known as Deep Impact that launched an 820-pound copper-covered battering ram that gouged a crater out of the comet Tempel 1 in 2005, and measured its effect. He says the same basic approach could be used with asteroids that threaten Earth.
And he says the nuclear option would not work with existing weapons, but only with new, even larger nuclear explosives than exist in any arsenal.
Melosh said panelists were limited under the terms of the National Research Council study to suggesting approaches that could be used in the next twenty years - giving the nuclear option an advantage, because a stockpile of weapons is already available. "I think in the long term there are much more effective efforts," he said.
Whatever the solution, Melosh says, the human race has the time to pursue safer alternatives. "A lot more people have been recorded to have died from nuclear weapons than have been recorded to have died from asteroid impacts," he says.

"One of the scary things is ... [cached]

"One of the scary things is that we won't actually know the shape and what it looks like until after we do the encounter," said Jay Melosh, a planetary geologist at the University of Arizona.

A jagged, cratered comet like the one headed for Earth in the movie would be difficult if not impossible to hit because of all the shadows, Melosh said.


University of Arizona planetary scientist H. Jay Melosh is talking about it today at the 34th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in League City, Texas.His talk, "Impact-Generated Tsunamis: an Over-Rated Hazard," is part of the session, "Poking Holes: Terrestrial Impacts."

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