The vice-chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology wants to know how prepared NASA is for “future cosmic incidences.”
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today wrote National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator Charles Bolden, asking for information on the country’s preparedness after last week’s explosion of a meteoroid over Russia and the close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14.
“This devastation serves as a blunt reminder of the dangers that cosmic objects pose to human safety and wellbeing,” Sensenbrenner said at the broken glass and building damage from the boom in Siberia that injured nearly 1,000. “The likelihood of a catastrophic event may be low, but the consequences are sufficiently dire to warrant preparation. An early warning could enable steps to mitigate damage and limit the loss of human life.”
Locating and tracking, though, are just the first step in being truly prepared, the congressman said.
“The ability to eliminate the threat of an asteroid or meteor impacting Earth, colliding with the Moon, or disrupting our space-oriented communications and scientific equipment could be vital. We would be remiss if we did not use the recent events as an opportunity to survey our current capabilities and assess how we can better use limited resources to identify potential threats,” he wrote.
Requesting an answer by March 20, Sensenbrenner requested information on how threatening objects are monitored and with what international cooperation.
“How achievable are current NASA plans designed to eliminate the threats posed by cosmic objects on a collision course with Earth?” he asked. “How much lead time is necessary between identifying a threat to Earth and its neutralization employing the current NASA strategies?”