Asteroid Watch Update

Asteroid Eros (NEAR)

Asteroid Eros (NEAR)

Just over a week ago we noted NASA’s new Asteroid Watch website. Today, New Scientist observes that although perhaps 83 percent of all near-earth asteroids of larger than a kilometer have been found, the smaller but far more numerous ones that could still be enormously destructive – and strike with far greater frequency — remain quite often undiscovered and untraced:

“To address the small-asteroid threat, Congress told NASA in 2005 to find 90 per cent of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 metres across by 2020. [See this earlier New Scientist article for more about that mandate.]

“NASA asked the US National Research Council in 2008 to figure out the best way to survey small asteroids and meet the 2020 goal. Now, the NRC panel has issued an interim report, saying that without new money for more powerful surveys, NASA will not be able to meet the goal.

“‘To achieve this goal, or to even come close to achieving it, new facilities capable of detecting fainter asteroids and having wider fields of view to cover larger portions of the sky each night are required,’ the report says.

“Panel leader Irwin Shapiro of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says there is wide agreement on this point. ‘Pretty well everyone agrees now that [just] continuing with what we have, there’s no way we could reach the 2020 goal . . . .’”

[For more on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – NEAR – mission to asteroid Eros, on which the photo above was gleaned, see the NEAR website.]

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] NASA to find 90 percent of all near-earth asteroids by 2020 that we discussed last August in Asteroid Watch Update? The answer: Not […]

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