Brownback and NEOs

Earlier this week the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee held a hearing on the potential dangers posed by near Earth objects (NEOs). I wasn’t able to attend the hearing, but I did listen to (most of) the audio-only webcast of the hearing. It seemed like a very straightforward discussion of NEOs, including search efforts and potential schemes for studying and even diverting them (the latter courtesy of Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart of the B612 Foundation.)

From what I could tell from the webcast it appeared that Brownback was the only senator present during the hearing, or at least the only one asking any questions. However, this Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World article makes it clear that Brownback does not necessarily put concern about NEOs above other issues:

Brian Hart, a Brownback spokesman, said while Brownback favored using federal funds for the hazards’ detection, it was “absolutely not” a top priority for the senator.

“I would not describe the senator’s passion on this issue more than any other,” Hart said.

The article also has a link to some feedback from some of Brownback’s constituents regarding whether his attention to this issue is misplaced…

2 comments to Brownback and NEOs

  • Dwayne A. Day

    Senator Nelson appeared at the hearing briefly, but then had to leave before he could ask any questions. The hearing started late because of a vote and it is possible that other senators might have intended to attend, but missed it because of the vote.

    It was a very straightforward discussion. Nothing goofy about it, and it seems reasonable to take the next step and increase searches for NEOs. Apparently NASA is concerned about paying for this, however.

    Someone reminded me that there were a number of hearings on this subject back in 1997-1998 because of the comet colliding with Jupiter and the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact. So this is not the first time Congress has visited this subject.

  • Dave Huntsman

    DDay- re, the Pete Conrad detect an asteroid award:
    has any intelligent reason been given as to why it’s been restricted to Americans/residents? To specifically say in the bill non-Americans can’t get it….no matter what they discover, or how important it turns out to be!…hardly seems in anybody’s best interest, particularly since the amount is so small to begin with.