House passes bill mandating a plan for asteroid warning and deflection
KurzweilAI.net, June 27, 2008
In recently passed H.R.6063, The U.S. House of Representatives would direct the NASA Administrator to develop plans for a low-cost space mission to rendezvous with the Apophis asteroid and attach a tracking device (subject to Senate approval).
The Apophis is expected to pass at a distance from Earth that is closer than geostationary satellites in 2029.
The bill would also require the Director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a policy within two years for notifying Federal agencies and relevant emergency response institutions of an impending near-Earth object threat. And the OSTP would be required to recommend a Federal agency (or agencies) to be responsible for protecting the Nation from any near-Earth object anticipated to collide with Earth, and for implementing a deflection campaign.
This is extremely good news. NASA has been pretty much ignoring this issue while they concentrate on missions that excite people more such as trips to Mars etc. At the last senate hearings in November 2007- [nai.arc.nasa.gov]- here is Scott Pace, from the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA:
"NASA would be pleased to implement a more aggressive NEO program, if so directed by the President and Congress. However, given the constrained resources and strategic objectives the Agency has already been tasked with, NASA cannot place a new NEO program above current scientific and exploration missions."
Well, here you go Mr. Pace. You have now been so directed. Get crackin'. As I said over at Gizmodo, PUT THESE GUYS ON THE JOB.
THE B612 FOUNDATION.