NASA Tells Congress to "Pray" if Meteor Comes
March 20, 2013 12:38 PM
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NASA needs funding for small meteor defense
NASA told Congress to "pray" if a meteor similar to
the one that hit Russia last month
is ever three weeks away from the U.S.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. told Congress that the U.S. doesn't have the proper equipment to identify a small meteor (the size of Russia's meteor) in a House Committee hearing on Tuesday.
"If it's coming in three weeks ... pray," Bolden said. "The reason I can't do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off. We are where we are today because, you know, you all told us to do something and between the administration and the Congress, the funding to do that did not - the bottom line is always
the funding did not come
The U.S. is able to detect larger meteors (and offset them a bit by crashing a spacecraft into them, thus slowing them down and changing their course) with plenty of in advance, but smaller objects are more difficult because the sun blinds satellites. That's precisely why Russia didn't see the meteor coming -- and neither did the U.S.
Had the meteor not stayed intact for only seconds longer, it would have had the impact of 20 Hiroshima bombs once hitting Russia, according to a
CBS News report
Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, said that the U.S. needs a space-based infrared telescope to see smaller objects coming. This particular telescope would work because the sun wouldn't be an issue in blocking sight of the objects.
Yeomans also suggested ground-based wide field optical telescopes that could keep an eye on large parts of the sky at night.
The space-based infrared telescope would cost "a few hundred million dollars."
However, government funding remains an issue. Bolden said NASA was budgeted only $20.5 million for its near-Earth object observation program for fiscal 2012.
While NASA doesn't see any large meteors coming toward Earth in the foreseeable future (and current large meteor detection equipment would know decades in advance), small meteors need to be taken seriously as well to prevent destruction.
The Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia on February 15, 2013. It was estimated to be traveling at 40,000 MPH and was about 11,000 tonnes.
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3/21/2013 10:02:15 AM
There are many facts in his angry rant.
There are plenty of facts on both side, but it seems neither are particularly open to the other. Being angry doesn't make your facts less valid, but it does make it more difficult to get others to listen to those facts.
Obama has redefined NASA's role to a more terrestrial one of researching climate, investigating car manufacturer defects, and the likes. This has taken funding that could have been used to purchase said telescopes in the article. However, space observation satellites currently in orbit have no utility in being pointed towards earth.
Obama and the legislative branch (they might possibly have something to do with it as well I think) have cut spending to NASA to fund his socialist projects. Since the question came up, I'll name just a few projects he (and in some cases earlier administrations) supports: Auto industry bail out, funding research into/subsidizing alternate fuels, nationalized health care. I'm not arguing for or against them, just pointing them out as a socialistic endeavors. FaaR is correct though, NASA is a huge socialistic endeavor itself. The difference is the end goals of the projects and NASA's extraterrestrial goals don't currently align with Obama's administration. It's not the first time, nor will it be the last.
All the funding, planning, and launching of the mars rover was done under another administration. Outside of the comparatively low cost of using what has already been paid for, NASA has done relatively little extraterrestrial work recently. As implied above, this isn't the first administration to downplay NASA, though I can't recall them ever being used for corporate investigations in the past.
There is some truth to the idea that you need to live in it to really understand it. It's not about arbitrary lines so much as difference of law, culture, and first hand vs third hand knowledge. For instance, it is less likely that FaaR would describe America's conflicts as imperialist if he lived in America. However, there is also truth to the idea that wars are costly and if they didn't exist the associated cost could possibly, though not likely, be applied to the space program. I would suggest that FaaR has exactly as much right to comment on American topics as Reclaimer has to comment on European Union or Chinese topics.
3/21/2013 1:52:45 PM
Well I guess we know didnt pass high school world history. Socialism has become a convenient label for the ignorant who are only interested in the politics of fear.
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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