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Examiner
  • Jerry Plantz: Look to the skies – and act

  • In the 1951 horror-movie “The Thing From Another World,” we are warned at the end of the movie to “Keep watching the skies.”

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  • In the 1951 horror-movie “The Thing From Another World,” we are warned at the end of the movie to “Keep watching the skies.”
    While astronomers are constantly searching for extraterrestrials, they are also searching for rouge asteroids, meteors and comets. Recently the night sky in some American cities has displayed streaking flashing lights as well as dying meteors (space rocks).
    The recent meteor crash in Russia stirred Congress to hold hearings on the dangers of missiles from outer space. Physicist and former NASA astronaut Ed Lu testified that there is a 30 percent chance of a five-megaton impact happening this century. He says technologies exist that would force the object to miss Earth, but if it is less than a two-year notice there is no option.
    NASA head Charles Bolden and the head of the U.S. Space Command agreed with Lu that an asteroid mission would create all the capabilities needed to push a doomsday rock from an Earthbound trajectory.
    Bolden said adequate asteroid protection would cost $100 million a year, up to $2 billion through 2025. However, President Obama’s 2013 budget request is for roughly $20 million for asteroid protection compared with current funding of $4 million a year, and Congress says there is no money for such protection. Really!
    Fortunately, there are thousands of amateur astronomers throughout the world looking for asteroids, meteors and comets. The Astrological Society of Kansas City has many of its 400 members tracking the skies for such objects.
    Rick Henderson, president of ASKC, warns though that while they can track such objects, their telescopes have a limit on what they can see, say only a handful of asteroids.
    “If an undetected 100-feet-in-diameter asteroid traveling at 30 miles a second slammed into Kansas City it would inflict tremendous damage and lost of life.” he said.
    A congressman asked Lu what if we got hit by an asteroid a kilometer in diameter before we could change its direction.
    “That is likely to end human civilization,” Lu replied.
    Bolden’s answer was to pray.
    And to think we spend hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars trying to destroy enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan but we can’t find $2 billion for asteroid protection to protect Earth and American lives and cities.
    Keep watching the skies.
    I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
    Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at jerryplantz@msn.com.
     
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