2004-03-26 / Community

Anthony Weiner Wants To Save The World (Sort Of)

Anthony Weiner Wants To Save The World (Sort Of)

Representative. Anthony Weiner, a Member of the House Science Com mit tee, has introduced new legislation designed to enhance our ability to de tect, track and catalogue potentially dangerous asteroids.A0The Studying and Preventing Asteroid Collisions with Earth Act (SPACE Act) would provide funding for NASA to use four Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response Systems (Pan STARRS) currently under development by the Department of Defense, to track near earth objects (asteroids that are close by).

Earlier this month, an asteroid (named "2004 FH") passed within 25,600 miles of earth, the closest approach on record.A0 Had 2004 FH, which was only 100 meters in diameter, struck the earth, it could have created a crater the size of Central Park.A0

Experts say that asteroids pass this close by every year or two, we just don’t see them.A0When they do make landfall, the damage can be catastrophic.A0Scientists believe that an asteroid strike 65,000,000 years ago caused the dinosaurs to become ex tinct.A0In 1908, an asteroid exploded over Tunguska, Russia, destroying 600 square miles of forest.

Currently, there are five sites in the United States monitoring the skies for near earth objects (NEO), and they do a pretty good job.A0 NASA is on pace to have identified 90% of NEOs 1 kilometer or larger by 2008.A0 The problem is that leaves numerous smaller but still dangerous NEOs unaccounted for, those between 140 meters and 1 kilometer of particular concern.

The SPACE Act would provide $4 million in NASA’s FY’ 05 budget to share the operating cost for four large, 1.8 meter telescopes currently being developed by the Department of De fense.A0 Affording NASA access to the PanSTARRS would greatly enhance our ability to detect smaller NEOs, without unduly burdening DOD applications.

A0"Asteroids are probably the last thing on most people’s minds, but they’ve hit us before and scientists tell us they’ll hit us again," said Rep. Weiner.A0 "So making a modest investment in prevention is a sensible thing to do.A0 And anyone who grew up playing asteroids like I did knows that you have to be able to see them before you can shoot them down."

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