How best to thwart Earth-threatening objects is receiving increased attention in Washington, D.C.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) has introduced a bill calling for the establishment of a United States Commission on Planetary Defense. Such a group would offer guidance, among a list of tasks, on neutralizing a Near Earth Object (NEO) that may have cross-hairs on our home planet.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Science and Technology and outlines several purposes for such a Commission, such as:
— Determine capabilities of United States Government entities, nongovernment organizations, foreign governments and entities, and international bodies to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (in this Act referred to as ‘NEOs’);
— Identify and evaluate roles and responsibilities of United States Government entities to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous NEOs;
— Determine United States effectiveness in leading international efforts to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous NEOs;
— Build upon United States Government and foreign analyses, studies, and assessments, without duplicating efforts, to determine current and required NEO characterization and mitigation capabilities;
— Identify and report on technology development required to provide effective planetary defense from dangerous NEOs; and
— Investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to provide planetary defense.
By Leonard David