Asteroids Attract The Attention Of Congress, Scientists

Asteroids have attracted the attention of Congress, with folks in Washington meeting to review ways to avoid a giant rock crashing into the earth.

The Science, Space, and Technology Committee has made plans to hold a hearing to examine ways to identify and address asteroids that could become a threat to Earth. Committee chair Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, talked about a meteor that exploded above Russia and the need to better identify such threats, CNET reported.

The meteor just happened to strike on the same day that a giant asteroid passed perilously close to the earth. Though a one-in-a-million coincidence, Smith thought it serious enough to get Congress involved.

“Today’s events are a stark reminder of the need to invest in space science,” Smith said, adding that the asteroid’s distance from Earth was less than that of a round trip from New York to Sydney. “Developing technology and research that enable us to track objects like Asteroid 2012 DA14 is critical to our future. We should continue to invest in systems that identify threatening asteroids and develop contingencies, if needed, to change the course of an asteroid headed toward Earth.”

Congress members aren’t the only ones trying to come up with solutions for dangerous asteroids. Two California scientists have proposed a system to vaporize asteroids as far as 93 million miles away using lasers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“There is a realistic threat of a comet or an asteroid hitting the Earth and doing untold devastation to the world,” said Gary Hughes, one of the researchers. “I think we should be compelled to search for realistic ways to mitigate that threat.”