Meteor 'Doomsayers' Gain Cred After Russia Blast
Private groups plan to launch detection satellites
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2013 2:02 PM CST
A circular hole in the ice of Chebarkul Lake where a meteor reportedly struck the lake near Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Advocates for early space-rock detection are speaking up and sounding a lot less looney since that meteor rocked Russia on Friday, the New York Times reports. At least two private groups are planning to launch satellites for early detection and one wants to mine asteroids for useful metals like platinum. "Wouldn’t it be silly if we got wiped out because we weren’t looking?" says a scientist with the group Planetary Resources. "This is a wake-up call from space."

Asteroid jitters began in the 1980s and 1990s, when astronomers nervous about our crater-littered planet began scanning the stars. NASA estimated that 20,000 orbit close enough to cause damage, but the government refused to finance a space telescope. Enter the B612 Foundation, which could launch its own 'scope within 4 years, and Planetary Resources, which is funded by Silicon Valley honchos like Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. "Everybody is calling" since the Russia meteor and another rock's recent fly-by, says a B612 rep. "They see us as the solution."

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Feb 18, 2013 5:28 PM CST
second meteor strike of that size in just over a century in russia . considering how much rock , ice ,and metal is buzzing around our solar system it`s amazing we dont get nailed more often ! this one exploded at an altitude of at least 18 miles , with the force of a 2 megaton nuke ! imagine the damage if it had been only 4 or 5 miles up when it blew ! thousands would have died .. !the bomb we dropped on hiroshima was around 11 kilotons , that`s a fire cracker compared to this meteor !
Feb 18, 2013 8:51 AM CST
Can you imagine if the angle wasn't so shallow and it had been more direct to the ground. There would have been a lot of dead people and some missing towns.
Feb 18, 2013 4:38 AM CST
"(B)ut the government refused to finance a space telescope. Enter the B612 Foundation, which could launch its own 'scope within 4 years ...." Four year is a long time. Another meteor, or comet or asteroid, could strike us within the next four years! And exactly how will a telescope keep us safe from such an event? Ooh, I know .... A scientist looking through the telescope at such an incoming object will give it The Evil Eye. Yup, that should work! Ha, ha, ha.