House to probe 'threats from space'

Congress hasn't stopped the sequester, but it is looking into how to stop Armageddon by meteor. 

A House committee next week will hold a hearing to learn about the government's effort to stop asteroids and meteors from hitting the Earth.

The hearing comes just weeks after a huge asteroid missed the Earth by 17,000 miles, and a meteorite hit the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. 

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will testify next week before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on "Threats from Space: A Review of U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors." 

White House Science and Technology Director John Holdren and General William Shelton, commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command will also testify at the Wednesday hearing.

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said last month that those events show the U.S. needs to keep investing in space science.

"Developing technology and research that enable us to track objects like Asteroid 2012 DA14 is critical to our future," he said. "We should continue to invest in systems that identify threatening asteroids and develop contingencies, if needed, to change the course of an asteroid headed toward Earth."

"Fifty years ago, we would have had no way of seeing an asteroid like this coming," he added. "Now, thanks to the discoveries NASA has made in its short history, we have known about 2012 DA14 for about a year."

Smith's hearing is one of several planned for next week. The House Agriculture Committee will hear from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on the state of the rural economy, and a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on the link between violence and mental illness, a reaction to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December.

Details on these and other key hearings next week follow:

House Agriculture


March 5, "To review the state of the rural economy," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testifies
     10 a.m., 1300 Longworth House Office Building

House Appropriations

March 5-7, Various subcommittees hold oversight and budget hearings during these days. Details here.

House Armed Services

March 5, "The Posture of the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command"
     10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

March 6, "The Posture of the U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, and U.S. Transportation Command"
     10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

March 7, "The Posture of the U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command"
     10 a.m., 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

House Energy & Commerce

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

March 5, "After Newtown: A National Conversation on Violence and Severe Mental Illness"
     10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

House Financial Services

Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade

March 5, "Near-Zero Rate, Near-Zero Effect? Is 'Unconventional' Monetary Policy Really Working?"
     10 a.m., 2128 Rayburn House Office Building

House Foreign Affairs

March 5, "North Korea's Criminal Activities: Financing the Regime"
     10 a.m., 2172 House Rayburn House Office Building

House Homeland Security

March 6, "DHS Cybersecurity: Roles and Responsibilities to Protect the Nation's Critical Infrastructure"
     10:30 a.m., 311 Cannon House Office Building

House Oversight & Government Reform

March 5, "Reducing Waste and Mismanagement: Implementing Agency Watchdogs' Recommendations Could Save Taxpayer Billions"
     10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

House Science, Space, and Technology

March 6, "Threats from Space: A Review of U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden testifies
     2 p.m., 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

House Small Business

March 6, "The Health Care Law: Implementation and Small Business"
     1 p.m., 2360 Rayburn House Office Building