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Should NASA Receive More Funding to Find Near-Earth Objects?

After an asteroid and a meteor came extremely close to the earth's surface on Friday, some say NASA should receive additional funds to find and track potentially dangerous space objects.

 

On Saturday a “small army of workers” began cleanup work after the sonic waves from a meteor struck rural Russia Friday morning, according to the Associated Press.  

The meteor, which took NASA by surprise, injured at least 1,200 people and shattered 50 acres of windows.  At least two individuals were reported to be in serious condition on Saturday. A few hours later, a known asteroid (2012 DA14) passed just 17,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Brown University’s Associate Professor of Physics, Ian Dell’Antonio told WPRO the two close calls were an unrelated coincidence.

“Something like [the meteor] happens a couple times a year,” Dell’Antonio told WPRO. “And they’re usually not splashed all over YouTube because they occur in more remote locations. To view YouTube footage of the meteor, click here.   

Why did NASA know about the asteroid and not the meteor?  Pure luck, says Wired.  Most asteroids are never discovered until they enter our atmosphere as meteors, but scientists just happened to look in the right place at the right time and saw the asteroid 2012 DA14.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) program finds and tracks objects that could approach earth.  Although congress set a deadline of 2020 for scientists to find 90 percent of the near-Earth objects that could cause devastation, the program has been underfunded, reports New Jersey Representative Rush Holt, physicist and former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.  Holt says NASA would require additional dedicated telescopes to fulfill that mandate.

Approximately 0.05% of NASA’s budget is allocated to the NEO program and NASA’s current budget is only 0.4% percent of the United States’ budget.   

What do you think?  Should these two close calls be a wake-up to allocate more funds to NASA?



Barbi B. February 17, 2013 at 06:48 PM
...Did this meteor actually "take NASA by surprise"??? Or had its presence and direction not been reported? If careful monitoring is in place, how was that missed? Would "more funding" make incidences like this more likely to be identified, so the general population could be warned of similar dangers?
J D C February 17, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I dont know if you saw it but Wethersfield has gotten hit TWICE by meteors. Astronomical ( pun intended lol ) odds uh?
J D C February 17, 2013 at 08:04 PM
meant huh sorry
Barbi B. February 18, 2013 at 01:41 AM
It just amazes me that, with so much technology....and not just NASA. What about other sky-watch groups, astronomers, etc. Nobody was able to detect and/or track this meteor? I would personally want to be advised when or if "the sky is falling" in my area... ;-)
Ron February 18, 2013 at 04:43 AM
NASA does need more funding, but i do not think Obama is going to give it. He is on a mission is to destroy NASA.
Barbi B. February 20, 2013 at 02:33 AM
...And another issue 'in the news' this morning: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/nasa-international-space-station-communication-contact_n_2717973.html

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