NASA Lacks Funds to Find Killer Asteroids by 2020
March 14, 2007 12:28 AM
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The U.S. space organization does not have the monetary resources to track all of the flying objects that could pose a threat to Earth
Even though the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is able to detect and monitor most asteroids that are close enough in case of potential impact with Earth, the
U.S. space organization lacks the proper funding to get it done within the deadline
that Congress imposed in 2005. Specifically, Congress wants NASA to detect 90% of the near-Earth objects (NEO) range from 140 meters in diameter up to more than a kilometer and a half.
The NASA report speculates there are around 20,000 asteroids and other flying objects that are currently in orbit somewhat close to the Earth. But financial constraints will not allow NASA to detect, monitor, catalog and characterize all of the NEOs like Congress requested two years ago -- it is more likely that NASA will have to focus only on the flying objects that pose a real threat to Earth.
To accomplish the plan enacted by Congress by 2020 would force NASA to use ground-based telescopes that are used by other research and space agencies; the likely creation of a dedicated observatory designed specifically for tracking NEOs; and NASA to launch a space craft that would monitor a safety cushion around the Earth. The report estimates that all of these projects would cost more than $1 billion, which is a high price that NASA cannot afford.
Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii is one tool
that is being used by three UK universities to help locate possible Earth-threatening asteroids. The powerful telescope is able to detect objects from 300m in diameter, which is large enough to have a strong impact on the Earth.
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3/14/2007 12:11:15 PM
And here in lies the true downfall of man. We actually put a price tag on something like this. How in the world can you put a price tag on the survival of the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE! Are there really people out there that would say we shouldn't make sure that this project is funded properly? The contractors that provide NASA with materials and equipment can't skimp a little on their overpaid executives salaries and bonuses to help bring costs down to a manageable level? Give me a break. If we can't afford a project like this, then perhaps it's best if our species does get wiped from the planet by some oversized hunk of rock.
RE: Quite Sad
3/14/2007 4:48:46 PM
Another facet of the downfall of man. I notice you are happy to suggest someone else take one for the sake of mankind, but you didn't volunteer yourself.
How about if we all skip lunch once a week and send the money to NASA for this program. It wouldn't work, but it'd be interesting.
RE: Quite Sad
3/15/2007 9:36:28 AM
but you didn't volunteer yourself.
You either missed my point or your illustrating it for me, this is everyones problem and it those with the most that have the most to lose. I pay my taxes and from a percentage standpoint, I'm paying way more than the group I singled out. But anyway, the fact that there is any sort of financial considerations in a project of this sort is why we shouldn't last as a species. If there ain't a buck to be made, what's the point right? To hell with whether or not any of us will be here to see that pile of "wealth" you've amassed at the expense of the entire species.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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