NASA Audit Concludes They’re Not Prepared to Protect Us From Asteroids or Even Detect Them
How long does it take to assemble a ragtag team of retired astronauts, anyway?
You know what we haven’t done in a while? Found an asteroid that’s about to fly uncomfortably close to Earth. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. Just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not out there, as a few close passes showed earlier this year, and a government audit has concluded that NASA’s program to detect asteroids and protect the world from devastation is way behind schedule.
NASA spends around $1 million of its total $40 million yearly budget on detection of asteroids of 140 meters in diameter or greater, but they’re behind schedule as far as cataloguing them. The plan is to have 90% of these flying death balls catalogued by 2020, but the audit reads, “While the program has discovered, categorized, and plotted the orbits of more than 11,000 NEOs [near-Earth objects] since 1998, NASA estimates that it has identified only 10 percent of all asteroids 140 meters and larger and will not meet the 2020 deadline.”
Only 10%? That could be why previously unseen asteroids keep sneaking up and giving us jump scares like they’re freaking walkers. The audit goes on to cover the reasons the program is lagging behind, saying that it’s all handled under “a single program executive who manages a loosely structured, non-integrated conglomerate of research activities with little coordination, insufficient program oversight, and no established milestones to track progress.”
Luckily, NASA at least spends a larger 7% of its budget on methods of destroying or deflecting an incoming space rock, because Bruce Willis and Aerosmith don’t come cheap. They also concur with the audit and have proposed corrective actions to help get things back on track, which is comforting—unless you’re an asteroid, because then our best aging action stars are coming for you.
(via Phys.org, image via Asteroids)
- Here’s another asteroid that was discovered just before it hit Earth’s atmosphere
- The UN wants to put together an international asteroid warning system
- NASA is totally sure a giant asteroid isn’t coming for us in 2032, you guys
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