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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Meteor Hearing

The Hill reports:
Congress hasn't stopped the sequester, but it is looking into how to stop Armageddon by meteor.

A House committee next week will hold a hearing to learn about the government's effort to stop asteroids and meteors from hitting the Earth.
The hearing comes just weeks after a huge asteroid missed the Earth by 17,000 miles, and a meteorite hit the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will testify next week before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on "Threats from Space: A Review of U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors."
CNN's Fareed Zakaria reports:
Fareed speaks with the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, about the implications of the meteor that exploded over the Ural Mountains last month. To see this or other interviews,download the show at iTunes.

The laws of math are that the probability is one of these things will hit...
Globally, what deeply concerns you is the asteroid strong enough so you have to restart civilization. And then, at another level, you risk extinction. Fortunately, those are large and we have a plan in place. NASA has a plan in place to detect and map and track every single asteroid that’s large enough to disrupt civilization. The one that exploded over Russia was not large enough to disrupt civilization. And so they’re dangerous and they'll hurt and they can kill, but the fact that we can’t track them is not as bad as not being able to track the big ones that could really destroy us. So once you know where they are, your next question would be, perhaps, do we have a plan to do something about it?
And the answer is no. It's all just on paper how to do it.
What would be the plan? Would it be some kind of military...?
You’d shoot a missile to shatter it in outer space and...
Yes, that’s the macho solution is you pull one of your missiles out of the silo that have been sitting there doing nothing since the Cold War and you blow the sucker out of the sky. The problem is, I mean, here in America, we’re really good at blowing stuff up and less good at knowing where the pieces land, you know…So, people who have studied the problem generally – and I’m in this camp – see a deflection scenario is more sound and more controllable. So if this is the asteroid and it's sort of headed toward us, one way is you send up a space ship and they'll both feel each other. And the space ship hovers. And they'll both feel each other's gravity. And they want to sort of drift toward one another. But you don't let that happen. You set off little retro rockets that prevent it. And the act of doing so slowly tugs the asteroid into a new orbit.