In response to a meteorite explosion over the Russian region of Chelyabinsk, which shook the region and injured over 1,100 people, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin reiterated his 2011 call for U.S.-Russian collaboration for a Strategic Defense of Earth.
According to the Russian Interfax wire, Rogozin said: "I have spoken before about the need for some kind of international initiative, related to establishing a warning and prevention system for dangerous approaches to Earth by objects of extraterrestrial origin." The Chelyabinsk event (in the Russian Urals) confirms the urgency of solving this problem, he added. Neither Russia nor the U.S. has the capability to knock aside such objects now, Rogozin stressed.
Rogozin recalled that when he first raised the question of the Defense of Earth, when he was Russia's political representative to NATO, the response was skepticism. RTR Vesti state TV quoted him saying, "The response was skepticism: 'That can't happen, because it can never happen.' There was a certain amount of criticism, and many people laughed."
Indeed, to LaRouche PAC's knowledge, there has never been a serious response from the United States to Rogozin's offer. At the NASA press briefing at 4:00 p.m. today, the NASA spokesman said it's not currently NASA's goal to try to defend Earth from objects of this size.
A NASA official at Johnson Space Center who deals directly with the asteroid threat, reached by LaRouche PAC today, confirmed that the United States has no ability to forecast the approach of such space rocks as that which impacted Chelyabinsk. Indeed, this meteorite hit was completely unanticipated, in Russia and the United States.
According to the official, the object that exploded there was about 15 meters in diameter, was traveling at 18 kilometers per second, and the energy released was probably around 300 kilotons of TNT equivalent. NASA is officially saying that this is the largest such event since the 1908 Tunguska event, which devastated an area in Siberia, by the explosion of an object estimated to be 30-50 meters across.
NASA estimates that there are about 11.5 million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 30 meters, and around 500,000 in the 30 to 100 meter range. However, these estimates are merely statistical, as there is no serious effort underway right now to map, or defend against, such threats to Earth.