NPR : News

Caught Their Attention: House Committee Will Hold Hearing On Asteroids

The two hulking rocks hurtling toward Earth today seem to have caught Congress' attention: Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, is calling for a Congressional hearing on what we can do to protect our planet from asteroids.

He said the meteor that exploded above Russia and the massive asteroid that whizzed past Earth at 2:25 p.m. ET., are a "stark reminder of the need to invest in space science."

His statement continues:

"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."

Unfortunately, Wired has pretty grim news on that front. Their headline today: "There Is No Way to Stop Space Rocks From Hurtling to Earth and Killing You."

The magazine explains:

"'The reason, simply put, is physics,' explains Brian Weeden of the Secure Earth Foundation, a former captain and missile expert in the U.S. Air Force Space Command. Asteroids orbit the sun like Earth does, and occasionally our orbits intersect, causing the rocks to enter the atmosphere as flaming meteors screaming toward impact. They are not flying like airplanes and missiles that air defenses target. Shooting them will not change their speed or trajectory — at best, a missile impact might change its direction somewhat or shatter it into more pieces."

Smith said his committee will hold a hearing "in the coming weeks."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Sweet Name Of Kids' Clinic Gives Some People Heartburn

The Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic gets its name from a student-run charity race in Raleigh, N.C., that has already raised $1 million for kids. Still, some find the name unhealthy.

Americans Don't Disagree On Politics As Much As You Might Think

Everyone knows that distrust of Washington is at near-record levels and that Congress has grown more polarized. But what's going on with American voters is more complicated than you may realize.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.