Magnification / NASA's chief of science has identified the discovery of asteroids as a priority in the space agency.
NASA  On Monday, a NASA scientist committed to funding a space telescope to find the vast majority of near-Earth asteroids that could endanger Earth one day.
During a meeting of the Advisory Committee at the NASA Headquarters in Washington, the Associate Agency Administrator, Thomas Zurbbuchen, stated that the agency was moving forward with the NEO Supervisory Mission, which will be ready to launch no sooner. since 2025, at a price below $ 600 million.
"This is a priority for us," Zurbbuchen said. He is in talks with the White House and Congress to obtain funding for the mission, which will be paid from the agency's planetary defense budget. NASA is currently spending about $ 1
50 million annually on tracking and characterization of hazardous sites, but this amount will have to increase in future years.The date of launch of the new monitoring mission will depend on the funding allocated to the project.
In the past, Congress has largely supported the discovery of dangerous asteroids N In 2005, Congress passed a law requiring NASA to detect, track, and characterize the physical characteristics of terrestrial asteroids and comets equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter, but the White House and Congress failed to agree on specific funding for program and efforts have been delayed. In studies, asteroids have consistently been identified as a major public priority.
On the same page
Now, with the urging of Zurbuchen, the White House and Congress seem to have finally come to the same countries. fic. "NASA's commitment to space exploration for asteroids is a huge step forward for anyone interested in human fate," Richard Binzel, an asteroid expert at MIT, told Ars. "We will ultimately rely on knowledge, not luck, as our plan to deal with dangerous asteroids."
As part of NASA's plan, the agency has accelerated the development of a double-asteroid redirection mission to be launched through 2021 This mission will use a kinetic strike to attempt to deflect the smaller component of the 160-foot diameter Didymos binary asteroid. After launching this redeployment mission, NASA will then turn its attention to financing the new surveillance mission.
Scientists generally agree that asteroids with a diameter of 140 and larger are large enough to cause regional devastation, which is unprecedented in human history. The new mission will detect 65 percent of undiscovered asteroids 140 meters or larger near Earth within five years, Zurbbuchen said. 90 percent of them will be discovered within 10 years.
Zurbbuchen stated that the NEO monitoring mission would use technology previously studied for the NEOCam mission, which has never gone through the design phase. The new mission will be led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"It's a big step," Lori Eye, director of planetary science, said at Monday's meeting. "This is something we have wanted to do for a long time. W we are finally in a position where we are ready to move forward."