Conceptualizing the Asteroid Threat and Searching for a Balanced Answer Between Effectiveness and Desirability

  • Nikola SchmidtEmail author
Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


This chapter utilizes the theory of securitization, as previously explained, and applies it to the asteroid threat. As the threat itself is clearly detectable by scientific means, it might look as if there are no political implications. This chapter claims the opposite. The fact that we can scientifically detect an asteroid merely precedes a political decision on how best to deal with it, no matter whether it is on a collision course or not. Securitization not only brings the threat to the fore of global debates, but it also legitimizes certain mitigation measures. Planetary defense is a delicate topic because currently, the most effective mitigation measure is nuclear deflection. However, using a nuclear warhead euphemistically called a ‘Nuclear Explosive Device’ creates new dilemmas. Thinking about alternatives for planetary defense that could become part of a broader infrastructure in space provides more than just security defined as the absence of threat; rather, it provides an opportunity to promote human flourishing in space and on Earth. Scientific authorities produce knowledge applicable to threat mitigation, but at the same time this creates responsibility and requires ethical reflection. This chapter explains in detail how a decision based simultaneously on rational and normative values should look.


Securitization Objectivation of science Pragmatism Sociology of knowledge Planetary defense 



This study was supported by the grant awarded by the Technological Agency of the Czech Republic, project TL01000181: “A multidisciplinary analysis of planetary defense from asteroids as the key national policy ensuring further flourishing and prosperity of humankind both on Earth and in Space,” and co-funded by the Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Institute of Political Studies, Faculty of Social SciencesCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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