Sunday, March 30, 2008

Keeping the Earth Asteroid Free Takes Science, Soft Touch

by Lee Gomes

Ex-astronaut Rusty Schweickart wants to save the world from an incoming asteroid -- the multimegaton variety blamed for killing the dinosaurs -- and he thinks that the only sure-fire way to keep them away is by using, of all things, diplomacy.
Mr. Schweickart was on the Apollo 9 mission that circled the earth testing the lunar lander, and had a successful post-NASA career in business. Now 72, he is spending his retirement trying to alert the world to the problem of Near Earth Objects, or NEOs.
Most of the time, he conducts the campaign sitting at a laptop computer in the study of his home in the Sonoma County wine country of Northern California. The Web connects him to a global network of other ex-astronauts, astronomers, government scientists, space buffs and more. Many of them are members of the B612 Foundation, which Mr. Schweickart helped to found to research the problem.

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Go to NASA's Near-Earth Object Program website