51 U.S. Code Chapter 711 - NEAR-EARTH OBJECTS
George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey
This section may be cited as the ‘George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act’.
“(b)Findings.—The 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.
Similar objects have struck the Earth or passed through the Earth’s atmosphere several times in the Earth’s history and pose a similar threat in the future.
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.
The efforts taken to date by NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] for detecting and characterizing the hazards of near-Earth objects are not sufficient to fully determine the threat posed by such objects to cause widespread destruction and loss of life.
For purposes of this section the term ‘near-Earth object’ means an asteroid or comet with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 Astronomical Units from the Sun.
“(d)Near-Earth Object Survey.—
The Administrator [of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration] shall plan, develop, and implement a Near-Earth Object Survey program to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter in order to assess the threat of such near-Earth objects to the Earth. It shall be the goal of the Survey program to achieve 90 percent completion of its near-Earth object catalogue (based on statistically predicted populations of near-Earth objects) within 15 years after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 30, 2005].
“(2) [Amended former section 2451 of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare.]
“(3)Fifth-year report.—The Administrator shall transmit to the Congress, not later than February 28 of the fifth year after the date of enactment of this Act, a report that provides the following:
A summary of all activities taken pursuant to paragraph (1) since the date of enactment of this Act.
A summary of expenditures for all activities pursuant to paragraph (1) since the date of enactment of this Act.
“(4)Initial report.—The Administrator shall transmit to Congress not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act an initial report that provides the following:
An analysis of possible alternatives that NASA may employ to carry out the Survey program, including ground-based and space-based alternatives with technical descriptions.
A recommended option and proposed budget to carry out the Survey program pursuant to the recommended option.
Analysis of possible alternatives that NASA could employ to divert an object on a likely collision course with Earth.”