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Asteroid Bill Passes.

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Earth-crossing asteroids.
Earth-crossing asteroids: Image credit: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/images/mathilde.html.

The US House of Representatives approved bill H.R. 912, which awards amateur Astronomers who discover potential Earth-crossing asteroids up to $3,000. One award will be given to the Astronomer who discovers the brightest object, and another to the Astronomer who makes the biggest scientific contribution to Minor planet Center's mission of cataloguing near-Earth asteroids. It's estimated that there are between 900 and 1,100 objects larger than 1 km - of which, 700 have already been tracked.

H.R. 912, the Charles "Pete" Conrad astronomy Awards Act, named for the third man to walk on the moon, establishes awards to encourage amateur Astronomers to discover and track near-earth asteroids. The bill directs the NASA Administrator to make awards, of $3,000 each, based on the recommendations of the Smithsonian Minor planet Center. Earth has experienced several near misses with asteroids that would have proven catastrophic, and the scientific community relies heavily on amateur Astronomers to discover and track these objects.

"Given the vast number of asteroids and comets that inhabit Earth's neighborhood, greater efforts for tracking and monitoring these objects are critical. That is why I introduced H.R. 912, the Charles 'Pete' Conrad astronomy Awards Act, which is a tribute to Pete Conrad for his tremendous contributions to the aerospace community over the last four decades," said bill sponsor, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). "Asteroids deserve a lot more attention from the scientific community. The first step is a thorough tracking of all sizeable Near Earth Objects, and H.R. 912 is a modest step towards this goal."

Original Source: House Committee On Science News Release

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