NASA today announced the establishment of a committee that will develop a plan to identify and catalogue, to the extent practicable within 10 years, all comets and asteroids which may threaten Earth.
Dr. Eugene Shoemaker was appointed as Chairman of the eight-member Near- Earth Object Search Committee. Shoemaker, an astronomer with the Lowell Observatory and professor emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey, also was co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which collided with Jupiter last month.
The committee was formed in response to Congressional direction to NASA to develop a plan in coordination with the Department of Defense and the space agencies of other countries. The plan's objective is to identify and catalogue, to the extent practicable, the orbital characteristics of all comets and asteroids greater than about 1/2 mile (1 kilometer) in diameter in orbit around the Sun that cross the orbit of the Earth. The plan is to include estimated budgetary requirements for fiscal years 1996 through 2000.
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology amended the NASA Authorization bill to require the NASA Administrator to submit the plan to the Congress by Feb. 1, 1995. Also appointed to the committee are: