Someone in the executive branch watched Deep Impact this weekend.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy director John Holdren had some strong words of caution to Congress: Asteroids are dangerous and we need to stay vigilant against their rocky threat.
In letters to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Science and Technology, Holdren informs Congress that his office is assuming the mantle of “protecting the United States from a near-Earth object [NEO] that is expected to collide with Earth; and … implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be necessary.”
NewsFeed isn’t the type to be frightened very often (yes we are) but that, frankly, sounds scary. Is it time to start paying attention to your loved ones again? Not quite. Holdren indicates that astronomers have found 903 NEOs in orbit one kilometer or wider in diameter, which isn’t very reassuring; they assure us that only 149 of these are in orbits that could pose a collision with earth, which also isn’t very reassuring. Of these 149, though, none are expected to get close to earth any time in the next 100 years. So: not our problem! Sorry grandkids!
Still, Holdren recommends being prepared, just in case: “The possibility of a future collision involving a more hazardous object should not be ignored.”
In his letter Holdren outlined plans for FEMA to take a leadership role in informing the world’s population if an NEO were on a collision course with earth. He also advocated collaboration between NASA and the military to destroy or deflect such an object —whether this collaboration would involve a a team of oillmen or a joint U.S.-Russian crew is unknown. (via AOL News)