posted on Mar, 9 2004 @ 01:40 PM
The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would give out $10,000 in cash awards each year to amateur astronomers who discover near earth
objects (NEO) or asteroids that have the potential of crossing earths path. Another similar bill under consideration would give $20,000,000 to NASA
each year specifically for detecting and tracking NEO. One interesting fact that is easy to overlook is that the first bill only grants money for the
years 2004 and 2005, while the second would be for the years 2005 and 2006. Why the short time span. Does the government believe that by the end of
2006 we will find all NEO, or does the government expect an asteroid encounter by 2006?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amateur astronomers could
receive awards of $3,000 for discovering and tracking near-Earth asteroids under legislation approved by the House Wednesday.
"Given the vast number of asteroids and comets that inhabits Earth's neighborhood, greater efforts for tracking and monitoring these objects are
critical," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., sponsor of the legislation that passed 404-1.
One award is to be issued annually to the amateur astronomer or group of amateurs who in the previous year discovered the intrinsically brightest,
near-Earth asteroid. Another award would go to the amateur who makes the greatest contribution to the Minor Planet Center's mission of cataloguing
The bill is named after Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon.
It is understandable that the second bill (George R. Brown Near-Earth Object Survey Act) involves a lot of money ($20million annually), and should be
reconsidered every few years, but it is puzzling that Congress would put such a short time frame on such an important problem. Why is the Pete Conrad
Bill only valid for 2 years? Congress debating a bill for 10 grand is like the average person debating picking up a penny on the sidewalk. Why would
NASA be less interested in finding Near Earth Objects (NEO) after 2006? What is the reason behind the move to give extra funding to NASA and amateur
astronomers to find NEO, but only for 2 years?
One possible theory is that someone in Congress has heard one of many theories of future asteroid collisions and chose to pay attention. There are
numerous sites on the Internet predicting an asteroid impact specifically in 2006. One of them
predicts 2 collisions in 2006. Other sources such as the Bible predict future impacts as
well. Australias Learmonth Solar Observatory, which was set up in 2003, is currently running
This name comes from the before mentioned Bible passage where an asteroid
name Wormwood falls into the sea, making a third of the water poison.
The other possibility is that they know it is coming and want someone else to find the incoming asteroid. If they were to admit an approaching
problem, everyones first question would be How long have you know this would happen? It would be very convenient for someone else to find it and
field the questions that arise.
The last possibility is that Congress actually cares and is concerned about the future of the planet, or they are spending money to give that
appearance. The two year limit on the Pete Conrad Bill makes me doubt this is the case.
astronomy.com - The Asteroid Threat
Pete Conrad Bill
George R. Brown Near-Earth Survey Act
Related ATS Discussion:
whats with the asteroids lately?
[Edited on 9-3-2004 by dbates]
[Edited on 9-3-2004 by Banshee]