Budget cuts have already reworked plans to put a man on Mars, but now NASA is worried that funding issues could have a much more dire consequence. Namely, an asteroid apocalypse.
Though they weren’t too close, good ol’ planet Earth recently faced a few apocalyptic near-misses from deep space. They were close enough, though, to get Congress worried, so they brought in a NASA team to provide an update on what we’re doing to predict and avoid asteroid crashes.
Turns out we’re not doing nearly as much as we could be, thanks in large part to budget cuts that have slashed resources that could be used to watch the skies for impending doom.
NASA chief Charles Bolden said it will be nearly two decades until we have 90 percent of the sky covered, and if something happened suddenly, we’re pretty much screwed:
"Our estimate right now is at the present budget levels it will be 2030 before we're able to reach the 90 percent level as prescribed by Congress. You all told us to do something, and between the administration and the Congress, the bottom line is the funding did not come...
The answer to you is, 'if it's coming in three weeks, pray. The reason I can't do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off."
Not surprisingly, Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said the situation is "not reassuring."
Luckily for all of us who call this rock home, White House science advisor John Holdren noted that the chance of a space object hitting earth and killing us all is “very small,” but added the potential consequences (i.e. extinction) mean we need to take the risk “seriously.”
So, basically, pray nothing is headed this way until at least 2030.