Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NASA is supposed to spot 90% of dangerous asteroids by 2020. It's at 10%

In 2005, Congress assigned NASA the task of locating 90 percent of all near-Earth asteroids big enough to cause significant damage if they hit us by 2020.

Only about 10% of these asteroids have been spotted so far

On Monday, a new NASA audit concluded that the agency is nowhere near meeting this goal.

According to NASA inspector general Paul Martin, only about 10 percent of these asteroids have been spotted so far, despite a tenfold increase in funding since 2009 for the program responsible. For the audit, the agency confirmed it will not reach the 90 percent goal.

Last week, a relatively small asteroid passed extremely close to Earth — ten times as close as the moon, and as close as some of our communications satellites. We had about one week of warning between when astronomers spotted it and when it arrived.

If this had been a slightly larger asteroid headed for Earth, we'd still be dealing with the consequences. This report is yet another sign that we're still not taking the proper precautions to deal with the threat of asteroids.

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