Professor Reynolds over at Instapundit links to the recent Wired article, "How to Defend Earth Against an Asteroid Strike".
It's a well written piece that lays out our current available arsenal of proven/semi-proven/unproven techniques for asteroid deflection. (National Geographic also did a great job of examining these techniques recently in their "Naked Science: Asteroids" program- the winner, or most logical in my opinion, is the gravity tractor- and the ex-astronauts at the B612 Foundation agree). It also links to the upcoming 1st International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference, which is April 27th-30th in Granada, Spain. There's one vacation I wish I had planned earlier, because geeking out with asteroid freaks by day and some Paella at night is sort of my idea of heaven......
.......what? Shutup. Yes, I know, I'm a dork.
Anyhoo, the Wired article still holds off from making the one point I'm always railing about that never seems to get more attention whenever the subject of asteroids comes up: We are spending WAY TOO SMALL of a percentage of NASA's budget on Asteroid Mitigation. Wired breaches the subject at the end of the article by pointing out what the current spending is for our funding of Asteroid Mitigation and Detection; around $4 MILLION.
NASA's projected budget for 2009 is around $17 BILLION
There is something seriously wrong with this breakdown in this humble tax payers perspective. We should know TODAY or at least SOON what is the best and most readily available method to deflect a potentially devastating Asteroid. We have ideas, but none of them are getting tested the way they should. NASA has less than 1 tenth of a percent of its budget devoted to asteroid mitigation.
For comparison, NASA spent $278 million on a satellite to measure co2 in the atmosphere, or more specifically one that does it better then the ones we already have. That satellite didn't make it, and is now at the bottom of the ocean.
I'm beginning to think the ESA is way ahead of NASA. And NASA hasn't been behind anyone on anything space related since Sputnik. This is just wrong to me for some reason. Maybe I'm crazy.
I haven't posted this before, but here's how I'll end this post-one of my favorite all time asteroid impact videos. Make sure you hit the high def-