51 U.S. Code § 71101 - Reaffirmation of policy
“Congress makes the following findings:
Near-Earth objects pose a serious and credible threat to humankind, as many scientists believe that a major asteroid or comet was responsible for the mass extinction of the majority of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs, nearly 65,000,000 years ago.
Several such near-Earth objects have only been discovered within days of the objects’ closest approach to Earth and recent discoveries of such large objects indicate that many large near-Earth objects remain undiscovered.
Asteroid and comet collisions rank as one of the most costly natural disasters that can occur.
The time needed to eliminate or mitigate the threat of a collision of a potentially hazardous near-Earth object with Earth is measured in decades.
Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, asteroids and comets can provide adequate collision information, enabling the United States to include both asteroid-collision and comet-collision disaster recovery and disaster avoidance in its public-safety structure.
Basic information is needed for technical and policy decisionmaking for the United States to create a comprehensive program in order to be ready to eliminate and mitigate the serious and credible threats to humankind posed by potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids and comets.
As a first step to eliminate and to mitigate the risk of such collisions, situation and decision analysis processes, as well as procedures and system resources, must be in place well before a collision threat becomes known.”
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