Lamar Smith: It’s Critical to Invest in Space Balls, But Not Climate Change

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In reaction to last night’s meteorite impact in Russia, Lamar Smith, who now chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has announced he will hold a hearing to identify more pork for Houston’s space industry “examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth.”

Today’s events are a stark reminder of the need to invest in space science. Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed just 17,000 miles from Earth, less than the distance of a round trip from New York to Sydney. And this morning, a much smaller meteorite hit near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, damaging buildings and injuring hundreds.

Developing technology and research that enable us to track objects like Asteroid 2012 DA14 is critical to our future. We should continue to invest in systems that identify threatening asteroids and develop contingencies, if needed, to change the course of an asteroid headed toward Earth.

Fifty years ago, we would have had no way of seeing an asteroid like this coming. Now, thanks to the discoveries NASA has made in its short history, we have known about 2012 DA14 for about a year. As the world leader in space exploration, America has made great progress for mankind. But our work is not done. We should continue to study, research, and explore space to better understand our universe and better protect our planet. [my emphasis]

So if you’re a Republican, it is okay to invest in efforts to stop asteroids from hurdling to Earth (if they’re going to hit us or an ally). But not okay to invest in efforts to stop climate change from doing far more damage, far more frequently.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Lamar Smith has had years to make the case for spaceballs research funding, but he hasn’t even done that well. Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by an amateur group of observers in Spain.

    Amateurs = no government money.

    In the EU = not even our larger country, raising questions about STEM here.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    OT: AP finds (bogus?) al Quaeda document in Timbuktu.

    “The more than nine-page document, found by The Associated Press in a building occupied by the Islamic extremists for almost a year, is signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the nom de guerre of Abdelmalek Droukdel, the senior commander appointed by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaida’s branch in Africa.”

    How freaking convenient? How did they know we’re facing a military budget sequester? Oh, right. The intertoobz.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    Pardon the second OT, but I found this interesting:
    “Droukdel’s letter is one of only a few internal documents between commanders of al-Qaida’s African wing that have been found, and possibly the first to be made public, according to University of Toulouse Islamic scholar Mathieu Guidere. It is numbered 33/234, a system reserved for al-Qaida’s internal communications, said Guidere, who helps oversee a database of documents generated by extremists, including Droukdel.”

    Link: In Timbuktu, al-Quaida left behind a manifesto

    If that’s an annual series/memo series sequence, Year 1 would be 1979. There’s something a little too convenient in that information.

  4. peasantparty says:

    @TarheelDem: 1979! Wasn’t that the redo of the Grand Plan from the 30’s, the one the neocons call New World Order? Al Qaida in Sudan and beyond is part of the list of nations in that plan.

  5. klynn says:

    Just curious read this from RT earlier:

    “The regional Emergency Ministry denied previous unconfirmed reports by local media that the meteorite was shot by the military air defenses.

    The local newspaper Znak reported the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. Quoting a source in the military, it wrote a missile salvo blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers.

    Regnum news agency quoted a military source who claimed that the vapor condensation trail of the meteorite speaks to the fact that the meteorite was intercepted by air defenses.”

    http://rt.com/news/meteorite-crash-urals-chelyabinsk-283/

    And anyone who read that and re-reported it is being labelled a CT.

    Via the wonderful HuffPo:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/15/russian-meteor-conspiracy_n_2694031.html

  6. Rayne says:

    @peasantparty: * dancing *

    @klynn: I was rather curious about that report myself; what would Russia want reported? That they were on the stick and on top of the object, or that they didn’t risk population with attempted shoot-down? All happened so quickly, too, based on the timing of content on ‘net that I don’t know if Russia was ready for information defense.

  7. Rayne says:

    I feel stupid–though I am still fuzzy from 24+hour migraine. If this meteorite was traveling at 33,000 mph, AND if Meteosat notified Russia as soon as it saw it enter atmosphere, there would not have been enough time to scramble jets. Only jets in area could respond, and they wouldn’t be in proximity long–if they could elevate to scramble mode fast enough.

    That’s my take. Russia couldn’t and didn’t respond, and it’s going to say the least possible about this.

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