Friday, March 22, 2013

The Sky is Falling

The trail left by the Chelyabinsk meteor on February 15, 2013.

Earlier this week, the House and Senate space authorization committees held hearings to discuss the potential threat of asteroids to Planet Earth.

The hearings were scheduled after a small meteor broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013.

Much of the media chose to focus on a flippant remark by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. When asked by Space Coast Rep. Bill Posey what we could do if given three weeks' notice of an impending meteor strike, Bolden said, "Pray." What Bolden really meant, if you watch the hearings, is that because asteroids move so fast, we would need years' notice to nudge a killer asteroid off-course.

The Gannett news report (Florida Today is a Gannett paper) correctly buried the joke at the end of their article. Reporter Ledyard King focused on Bolden's main message, which was that such events are extremely rare, but should be taken seriously.

Bolden also took advantage of the hearings to promote the Obama administration's proposal for a human flight to an asteroid in the 2020s. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) dismissed the idea as "lackluster."

The videos of the hearings are below.

Click here to watch the March 19 House hearing.

Click here to watch the March 20 Senate hearing.

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