More deadly asteroids on NASA's radar
By Gannett News Service
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:24 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The bad news, earthlings: More than 10,000 asteroids big enough to level a large city continually brush past the globe undetected.
The good news: There's an “extremely remote” chance any of them hitting us in the next hundred years, according to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. and Obama administration officials who appeared on Tuesday before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The meeting addressed how well the federal government tracks “near-Earth objects” and how prepared the world would be to avoid colliding with one.
Lawmakers convened the hearing a little more than a month after two very rare events took place the same day: On Feb. 15, a small asteroid passed within 17,000 miles of Earth, and a meteor exploded over Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people.
The meteor was a surprise, but data suggests scientists are doing a much better job locating these high-speed, wayward missiles — thanks largely to improved technology and Congress' insistence in recent years that threats from space receive more attention.
In 1998, NASA found several hundred near-Earth objects. By 2012, the tally had reached nearly 10,000. Ninety-five percent of those were larger than 1 kilometer across — big enough to wipe out everyone on Earth.
Lawmakers are worried about midsized asteroids as much as 300 meters long that aren't being detected, even if the threat of collision is incredibly tiny. A direct hit by an asteroid that size could flatten a city. The meteor that exploded over Russia was about 17 meters long.
An estimated 13,000 to 20,000 midsized asteroids threatened the Earth last year, and only about 10 percent were spotted, White House science adviser John Holdren told the committee.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Enrollment surging in state-run health insurance exchanges
- Food stamp cut proposal much less than GOP sought
- Senators defy Obama in bid to back Israel
- Death penalty executions drop
- Illegal immigrants want relief from deportations
- Deadline extended for first Obamacare premiums
- Volume drop could end Saturday mail delivery
- Ga. lawmaker defends remark about poor kids
- Jury says O’Neal owns Warhol work
- Capitol dome to undergo restoration
- Judge: U.S. aids smugglers in illegal immigrant cases