"The enclosed document defines a program with a total estimated budget of $24 million covering the first five years, with operation costs of $3.5 million annually in the outyears. Given NASA's severely limited resources, we do not recommend this program as a new initiative. However, the Agency does remain committed to continuing its ongoing NEO survey activities, providing approximately $1 million annually for these efforts. Should you or members of your staff desire a more detailed briefing on this report, we would be pleased to arrange a meeting."
First paragraph of a news item from SCIENCE (8/18/95)
NASA has declined, for the second time, to follow a blueprint for what an earlier report called "insurance for our planet against the ultimate catastrophe" -- an impact by a mountain-sized object from outer space. In a report NASA quietly sent to Congress last week, an expert panel noted that improvements in telescopes in the past 3 years have lowered the cost of finding 90% of the most threatening objects from $300 million to $60 million. But "given NASA's severely limited resources," says Associate Administrator for Legislative Affairs Jeff Lawrence, the agency is still not interested.
Friday, 25 Aug 95 Washington, DC
NASA SEES NO URGENCY IN SEARCH FOR "EARTH-CROSSING" ASTEROIDS. Congress got itself worked up over the asteroid threat last year and called on NASA to produce a 10-year plan to catalogue "Near Earth Objects." NASA has been providing about $1M per year to locate objects in "Earth-crossing" orbits. At this rate it will take about a century to finish the job. A NASA study team headed by Eugene Shoemaker came up with a 10-year plan calling for $24M to cover the first five years and $3.5M per year thereafter. The Shoemaker report was delivered to the Science Committee, but NASA recommended against the new program. On the time scale of major asteroid impacts, a hundred years seemed to be soon enough.