On June 30 in 1908 the Tunguska object took out a good chunk of forest in Siberia.
In February of 2016 the United Nations approved a resolution stating
30 June International Asteroid Day to observe each year at the international level the anniversary of the Tunguska impact over Siberia, Russian Federation, on 30 June 1908 and to raise public awareness about the asteroid impact hazard
A good time to talk about a project on my wish list. An orbital telescope devoted to finding asteroids.
A wide field infrared scope much like WISE. But unlike WISE positioned at SEL1 or SEL2 so the earth isn't a major heat source.
A scope that can make simultaneous observations in visual wavelengths as well as infrared. This would tell us the asteroid's albedo from which we'd get a good estimate of size.
A scope that points towards the inner solar system. For various reasons asteroids within the earth's orbit are very hard to see from earth's surface. An orbital scope pointing towards the inner solar system would give us an inventory of a body of objects we presently know almost nothing about.
I was surprised and pleased to learn such a telescope had already been proposed. NEOCam. Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer.
We're presently getting a pretty good inventory of Chixculub size rocks. But Tunguska sized rocks are much harder to see. And there's a bunch more rocks this size. NEOCam would help us get a better handle on potential city killers.
Another potential NEOCam benefit: It could inventory potential asteroids for mining companies like Planetary Resources or Deep Space Industries.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is enthusiastic about developing space as a source of resources and enabling economic growth. He's show interest in lunar poles as low hanging fruit.
Near Earth Asteroids are also a low hanging fruit. If Bridenstine's goal is to expand our economic activity into deep space, NEOCam is a great investment.
A few days ago Marshall Eubanks commented:
NEOCam is not in good shape. Over a year ago it was given one additional year of fairly minimal support. About all that was said about it in this month's SBAG meeting was that it "Continues in extended Phase A" - i.e., on life support.
I hope this changes. We need a telescope devoted to asteroid discovery.