Somewhere in the inner solar system, there's a rock with our name on it. Literally. In March the International Astronomical Union named a newly discovered asteroid 14145 SciAm, on the recommendation of its discoverer, Edward Bowell of Lowell Observatory. Fortunately for the magazine's public relations image, the asteroid does not cross paths with Earth. Others after whom asteroids are named may not be so lucky. As most people now recognize, killer rocks are a fact of life on our planet. Doubters can ask the dinosaurs for their opinion.
Is the world doing enough to cope with the threat of impacts? In this issue, a team of scientists and astronauts argues for going beyond the current telescope surveys to begin developing a rocket that could land on an asteroid and push it out of the danger zone [see "The Asteroid Tugboat,"]. The project could cost $1 billion, spread out over a decade or so. Is it worth it?
This article was originally published with the title Penny-Wise, Planet-Foolish.