In case you felt like the Armageddon simulation we've been living in wasn't realistic enough already, Congress's Science, Space, and Technology Committee will soon hold a hearing "to examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth." Cue Aerosmith.
This morning's meteor explosion in Russia resulted in more than 900 injuries, making the fact that the hurtling space rock was undetected by any Earth-based telescope more than a little disconcerting. Couple that with a close call to a 150-foot-wide asteroid in less than 24 hours, and it makes sense that an effort is being made to, at the very least, create the appearance of attempting to address the situation. In the announcement made by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):
Today's events are a stark reminder of the need to invest in space science. 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.
Fortunately, the chances of you or a loved one actually being hit by a projectile from above are absurdly small, so there's no need to erupt into mass hysteria just yet. You can save that for February 5, 2040, when the next great threat to Earth may or may not pass us by, and we'll see if these hearings actually produced anything of use. [Cnet]