Yesterday the honorable Dr. John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, recommended Donald Yeomans’ book, Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us, as the book to read while explaining near-Earth objects during the House of Representatives Full Committee Hearing. The hearing, Threats from Space: A Review of U.S Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors, Part 1, is the first of a series of hearings that will discuss near-Earth objects, the threats they pose to Earth, and what tools can be used to prevent, track, and observe them. Skip ahead to the 1 hour, 21 min and 26 second mark to hear Dr. Holden discuss the book’s relevance to the hearing.
The hearing occurred in light of the two near-Earth objects incidents that happened on February 15th. By coincidence the 2012 DA14 asteroid flyby and the meteor explosion over Russia occurred on the same day prompting many to become concerned about the safety of the planet from future near-Earth objects. While neither inflicted great damage on the planet, the potential threat of future near-Earth objects contributed to law-makers meeting to discuss various questions brought up by the two incidents. Some of the questions discussed during the hearing included whether or not we have the necessary tools and technology to detect and tract near-Earth objects and what plans we have if we determine there is a threat to Earth from a near-Earth object impact.
The book explains what near-Earth objects, their history, and what NASA scientists are doing today to try and find, track, and study them. Yeomans, the senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office and one of the leading experts in the field.