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Close Encounter With A Big Rock

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halman

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Recently, humanity received another reminder of why space travel is more than just a form of scientific research. A rock measuring 2.9 miles by 1.5 miles passed within 1 million miles of Earth, its closest this year. This rock was discovered in 1989, and is not a danger to Earth. However, we are constantly discovering other rocks, and someday the Earth will be hit again. Meteoric impacts large enough to significantly affect life on this planet have occured repeatedly.<br /><br />At this point in time, there is little that could be done if a large meteor were detected on a collision course with Earth. Developing our ability to travel around the Solar System will greatly enhance our odds of not only detecting large rocks, but of doing something to protect the Earth from a devastating encounter.<br /><br />We must impress upon the politicians that funding space exploration is significantly different than projects such as the Super Conducting Super Collider. Without the ability to travel about the Solar System, we can do practically nothing to protect ourselves from incoming rocks. Spaceguard has got to be funded at a level where early detection is possible, and launch technology has got to be improved to the point where we can establish the ability to travel beyond Low Earth Orbit. Failure to do this is tantamount to building our home on the side of an active volcano. What has happened before will probably happen again. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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