"Wonder does not open the purse as well as fear."

Sounds like the Republican party.
Hey, this is one case where I say whatever it takes. Science of space is important. Especially with ascendant nations making strides themselves.
I'll agree this is barely (if at all) news, but exactly whose problem is it? I don't know, maybe it's the problem of the JOURNALISTS who trumpet this stuff, a club which (I should add) you happen to belong to.

NASA needs funding. They'll issue a press release when ANYTHING happens. It just takes a lazy journalistic corps to pick up on it, and trumpet the fear to try to increase their circulation. (And then a lazy blogger to pick up on THAT and complain about it.)
Kitt Peak observatory is majestic in the middle of a clear night. Never been inside, but the low red light off the facade of the building and the low electronic humming coming from who-knows-what is kind of surreal.
Not that I should have to point it out to you, be we as a species have not really been able to detect rocks hurtling at us that were the size of a bus before.
Charles, I know you're just having a laugh, but the tracking of NEOs is not just an American priority -- the UN's OOSA (Office of Outer Space Affairs) has at least begun addressing a potential international response to a potential NEO threat:…

The recent near miss is notable for a few reasons - it's one of many Near Earth Objects recently discovered and catalogued only hours before crossing our orbit (we'd never see one coming from the direction of the sun), and tracking these same objects over time helps refine the projections of their future orbital paths.

This one's size means it's relatively harmless, but in about twenty years from now, a much larger asteroid named Apophis will be passing us within the same distance. Even though Apophis will also near-miss us at that time, in the spring of 2029, its close encounter with Earth and its tidal forces *could* drop it into a new trajectory resulting in impact with our planet on its next pass about seven years later.

Statistically, the odds of Apophis threading that needle are very remote, but astronomers need to keep observing these objects over time to know that:

The budget for places like Kitt Peak, or Arecibo, or any of the other observatories spotting and tracking objects like TD54 or Apophis is, of course, a relatively tiny portion of the budget of NASA or equivalent programs in other nations*. Marketing the importance of funding science to the general public always seems to mean lathering on the "gosh, wow" element of these stories. It's "news" as much as any weather prediction/observation news, isn't it? Is it worth funding tornado watchers in the middle of nowhere, or ice core sampling in the Antarctic?

*Amateur astronomers are also spending their own time searching for and tracking these objects - check out this animation uploaded by a guy named Patrick Wiggins, using his own 14 inch Celestron scope, of asteroid 2010 TD54 at closest approach yesterday:…
Since we actually have a Black President, now doubt a super secret mission using advanced propulsion rockets that only 10 people know about was dispatched to (barely) nudge the asteroid away from our orbit.
If the world is saved from an asteroid crashing into it, it will be by the Europeans, the Japanese, the Koreans, and the Chinese.

NASA is, sadly, a joke. Didn't used to be, but it is now.

(caveat - a sister-in-ex-law works for them and most NASA folks are great people)
As a planet-dwelling species, it behooves us to keep an eye out for incoming space rocks, which is a better job for NASA than the one they currently have - sending junk to other planets and killing people in outer space.
@8,9 - I would argue that NASA's solar system probes like Cassini, New Horizons, the Voyagers and the MRO, and its orbital observatories like Swift, Kepler and Hubble are taken together the finest achievements of our species. As far as we know, in this universe that's 4.1 × 1034 cubic light years big, with some 30 to 70 sextillion stars in it, we're the only living consciousnesses observing and exploring its wonders.

Look at these pictures (okay, some of them come from the ESA):…
Meh. Still a joke.
Am I the only one who was taught that the dinosaurs died because of changing continents and weather patterns?
Boy, are you out of date. Meteors have been the prevailing theory since at least about 1990 or so.
Giant speeding rocks it is, then!

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