In 2005 the United States Congress, gave NASA a mandate to identify 90% of all Near Earth Objects [NEO’s] larger than 460 feet, by the year 2020.
A panel of experts in both 2009 and 2010 reported that it was not feasible to meet these objectives, in the given time. They reported that lack of funding was the major setback.
There is a growing amount of scientists, who believe that putting an Asteroid hunter spacecraft in orbit around the Sun, would not only meet the criteria but get better results than mandated, sooner than mandated. Once again the problem is funding.
Ball Aerospace, have now released a white paper on the concept of an asteroid hunter. They say that, at a price of $638 million a viable spacecraft could be built, start to launch, in 42 months. It is then estimated that it would take 7.5 years to make the catalogue, mandated by congress.
Experts say that, although a telescope orbiting the Sun could have a primary task of the protection of our planet; it could also have potential for many other scientific uses.
NASA has yet to give the go ahead for the commencement of this project.
If they think that this project is possible, they should get it started right away. To fund it, they could cut back on their expenditure trying to find planets so far away, that even our grandchildren will not get to see a spacecraft reach them. After all, a NEO could strike Earth at any time, which would probably hamper their search for other planets anyway. Plus they could get back to searching again soon, but with the confidence that our planet has at least some protection, as opposed to none now.
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