Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), shown here possibly pointing to a dangerous object in the sky, is being commended by the no doubt august Institute for Human Continuity for his "Planet X forsight" and belief that Earth's preparedness for dealing with cosmic debris hurtling toward it is "key for the survival of the human race."
What the Star Surfin' Congressman did specifically was introduce House Resolution 4917, the "Near Earth Object (NEO) Preparedness Act," which, if passed, would establish an Office of Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Object Preparedness.
"As Congressman Rohrbacher has acknowledged, NEOs 'range in size from small dust particles to near planet sized behemoths.' As Planet X approaches our galaxy, its gravitational pull will interact with these NEOs in potentially disastrous ways for our planet," says the institute, which has laid out a "Planet X Disaster Scenario" that will possibly play out in 2012, so finish that bucket list now.
Rohrabacher, in the joint statement with the institute, says we've already come close to NEO disaster.
"On June 14, 2002, the Earth narrowly avoided a deadly event, one which quite possibly would have had a devastating effect on the course of humankind," he states. "The close call came and went, and for three days nobody noticed that day a football field sized asteroid careening at 6.2 miles per second came within 75,000 miles of hitting the Earth. Three days later the asteroid was discovered, but of course by then it was far too late. Had the asteroid hit the Earth, the devastation may have equaled the 1908 Tunguska event, an asteroid or comet that flattened over 80 million trees in a remote region of Siberia."
The congressman later says, "it is vital for all of us to realize this is not just for the movies or science fiction. The threat of an asteroid hitting the earth is a serious matter. It has been well documented that the Earth's moon and many other planetary bodies in our solar system are covered with impact craters. Most people have heard of the dinosaur extinction theory or perhaps seen pictures of the meteor crater in Arizona. However remote the possibility of an NEO striking the Earth and causing a worldwide calamity, no matter how obscure that may sound to some, is still a calculable threat."
Funny, he does not see global warming as a calculable threat. Guess it depends on which scientists are commending him.
"During my tenure as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, NEOs became one of my main priorities. I was consistently astonished by the utter lack of preparation in detecting and defending against such objects," he says.
Besides introducing HR 4917, Rohrabacher supports an increase in funding for the continued operation of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a joint NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory plan called "safeguard" to detect NEOs and continued work with the global community on the International Space Station. Besides tracking asteroids as a preventative measure, the world should come together and do so for science, he says. "[A]steroids are geological time capsules from the era when our solar system was formed--made up of orbiting mines of metals, minerals, and other resources that can possibly be used to build large structures in space without having to transport materials from Earth. . . . So far NASA has successfully surveyed hundreds of asteroids representing only a fraction of the projected total population of asteroids and near Earth objects. The time is now to begin to fully understand NEOs and prepare for their potential worldwide threat before it's too late."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Closer to Earth--like on it--Rohrabacher issued a statement of his own today criticizing the
"The The U.S. should never purchase security equipment from a potential enemy, states the release, which is silent on whether U.S. firms should sell security equipment, arms and weapons of mass destruction technology to potential enemies, as they have done for years.
The U.S. should never purchase security equipment from a potential enemy, states the release, which is silent on whether U.S. firms should sell security equipment, arms and weapons of mass destruction technology to potential enemies, as they have done for years.
The Port's final decision on made-in-China scanners is due Feb. 19.