Earth’s atmosphere protects us from asteroids and comets that are up to 50 yards in diameter. Astronomers estimate there are at least 1 million near-earth asteroids (NEA) of this size, and more than 1,000 asteroids with diameters of at least half a mile that could impact our planet with widespread devastation. Surveys by infrared-equipped satellite telescopes have located 93% of these large NEAs and only about 70 now remain uncharted. However, catastrophic damage will likely occur if one of these objects collides with our planet. Massive forest fires, towering tidal waves and extreme weather change are the likely results of a large asteroid strike. Astronomers warn it is only a matter of time before this occurs. One recent strike was the 60 foot, 11,000 ton Chelyabinsk meteor over Russia in 2013 which entered the atmosphere at 41,000 mph, damaged 7,200 buildings, and injured 1,500 people. It exploded 14 miles above ground in a deafening blast that was 20 times more powerful than our Hiroshima bomb. This small meteor arrived totally undetected because it was made of a dark non-reflective substance, had a shallow angle of approach, and no one with a telescope was looking for it. Experts say that if Chelyabinsk had struck ground in a major city, many hundreds or thousands of deaths likely would have ensued. Oddly enough, on the same day of the Chelyabinsk meteor, an asteroid named 2012DA14 flew past the earth. This rock, roughly half a football stadium in width, flew close enough to the Earth as to pass beneath our communication satellites. And as if that were not enough, another similarly-size object named the â€œPitbullâ€ was discovered in 2014, as it flew just above our satellites over New Zealand after being detected only a week earlier. Astronomers and astronauts claim these events are further proof that our planet needs a defense against large asteroids. They claim it is possible an asteroidâ€™s trajectory, particularly one arriving from our Southern Hemisphere, could bring it on a collision course with our planet with practically no advance warning. They say that for the first time in human evolution, we have the ability to protect our planet from asteroids and their ensuing catastrophes. Many want us to develop a means to detect, analyze and deflect or destroy large NEAs. Asteroid fragmentation methods include the use of kinetic, gravitational, solar or nuclear energy. Deflection methods include gravity tractors, laser cannons and the attachment of rockets or mass drivers to the NEA.
Pending Legislation: None
I oppose reforming current asteroid defense policy
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill authorizing funding for NASA to research and deploy an asteroid defense system