Friday, November 9, 2007

Flat Pennies

"Penny-pinching at NASA could mean end of world," reads the headline in the Edmonton Journal this week. "NASA penny-pinching risks exposing humanity to a planetary catastrophe if a big asteroid evades detection and slams into Earth, U.S. lawmakers warn. Top NASA scientist Scott Pace said the agency could not do more to detect NEOs -- near-earth objects 'given the constrained resources and the strategic objectives NASA' has already."

Can't do more to detect NEOs? We don't think that's quite right. The minion should have said, "Can't afford more, because we are draining the bank on the Ares-1 rocket." A rocket that is falling prey to many a technical issue these days. A rocket already six months behind schedule and not even off the paper yet. A rocket we certainly won't need at all if the planet is slammed by a wayward rock.

Of course, the lawmakers should have asked Pace for one of those fancy Steve Cook viewgraphs. You know the type. We're sure it would have convincingly showed how to launch a mission, Rube Goldberg style, about as convincing as the case for Ares, to defeat such a pesky critter.

Of course, a better approach would have been to look at those "strategic objectives" again. Perhaps, "save the planet" should rank in front of "build new toys for the Emperor?"

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