NASA can’t find most of the asteroids threatening Earth, but it has a plan

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By Tim Fernholz

If the movies teach us anything, it’s that the US government has a small room with a few stressed-out bureaucrats worrying about every disaster that might arise. Volcanos? Absolutely. Pandemic influenza? You got it. Today, we heard from the killer asteroid team.

The bad news? NASA is not going to be able to find all the asteroids big enough to cause serious devastation on Earth by 2020—or even 2033. Also: For a hypothetical attempt to send a spacecraft to divert an seriously dangerous incoming asteroid, we’ll need a ten year heads-up to build it and get it to the asteroid.

The good news? They’re working on it. “If a real threat does arise, we are prepared to pull together the information about what options might work and provide that information to decision-makers,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, told reporters.

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1 COMMENT

  1. @OP – NASA can’t find most of the asteroids threatening Earth, but it has a plan

    However, defending Earth from asteroids or developing in-space resources, is not a Trump priority when there is a need for US military dominance to defend space from other nations or aliens! 🙂

    http://spacenews.com/nasa-closing-out-asteroid-redirect-mission/

    “It’s good to see that the NASA budget request ends the previous administration’s ill-conceived asteroid mission,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee, during a June 8 hearing by his committee’s space subcommittee on the NASA budget request. “Instead, other, and more needed, technologies will be developed under different programs.”

    As a result of the decision to close out ARM now, several ongoing efforts related to the mission are being cancelled, Gates said.

    At the SBAG meeting, Gates said other elements of ARM would also be preserved, such as increased funding for near Earth asteroid searches and planetary defense techniques. “Many of the aspects that we were working towards in ARM will all be part of continued work in human exploration,” she said.

    “The technologies that we were developing, the capabilities that we were developing in ARM, were not mission-specific,” said Dan Mazanek, ARM mission investigator. “I haven’t come up with anything that we were doing that was not applicable to a wide variety of missions.”

    He expressed disappointment, though, that ARM will not continue.
    “This was kind of the best mission, or the dream mission, as far as I was concerned,” he said, noting it combined science, human exploration, planetary defense and the use of in situ resources.
    “This mission was really the convergence of those different ideas, those different concepts.

    His hope, he said, is that “somehow, a form of ARM may arise in the future. I think still that it is a good mission.”

    But hey! Trump has plans for a military space corp! – No need for that sciency investigation stuff! 🙂

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