White House Adviser Voices Asteroid Worries - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

White House Adviser Voices Asteroid Worries

MSN - National emergency plans for natural disasters can also work in the unlikely scenario of an asteroid strike on the U.S., according to a letter to Congress by the White House's top science adviser, Space.com has learned.

The 10-page letter by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, adds that the U.S. has a responsibility to the world as the country most capable of detecting space rocks that threaten Earth. The Oct. 15 letter obtained by SPACE.com is addressed to the leaders of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Holdren states that NASA must continue leading efforts to close the gap in detecting and perhaps deflecting near-Earth objects (NEO). The U.S. space agency already has the duty of alerting the rest of the government about any threatening space objects.

Holdren's letter also laid out the duties of other federal agencies in handling emergency communications and response. It called for a "senior-level interagency simulation exercise" to test impact-response plans before the United States is confronted with an actual asteroid impact.

"My immediate reaction is that it represents the most detailed consideration of the U.S. government's response to the NEO threat to date, more clearly delineating communication links and responsibilities than had previously been the case," said Clark Chapman, space scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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