Bill Nye, the CEO of The Planetary Society, is the subject of a rather positive profile by Mother Jones magazine published Thursday. In it, Nye identifies his top three “political passions”: “Climate change, raise the standard of women around the world through education, [and] asteroids.” The article describes his interest in search for, and finding ways to deflect, potentially hazardous asteroids. “Sooner or later we’re going to have to deflect an asteroid,” Nye says. “And we’re the first generation that can do something about it.”
So that means he should be a fan of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) concept, which seeks to shift the orbit of a very small asteroid into lunar orbit to be visited by astronauts, right? Not exactly. “I don’t think it’s a good value,” Nye tells the magazine of the ARM plan. “I don’t think it will happen.”
Why Nye was speaking presumably just for himself, it is a little different position from what The Planetary Society published in May, when it offered conditional support for what was then called the Asteroid Retrieval Mission. “It’s an intriguing idea,” Nye said in the May statement. However, the organization added at that time that it was concerned “detailed goals, costs, and implementation plan for this asteroid mission are not yet well defined”—and arguably still aren’t today.