WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) - Reports indicate that the official search for asteroids and other potentially hazardous bodies in space by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has not stopped, despite the government shutdown.
The usually bustling District of Columbia has been uniquely affected by the first government shutdown in 17 years, with thousands of federal employees who make up the backbone of the metro area’s workforce ordered not to report to work. Others around the country have been similarly effected by the shutdown.
In regards to NASA, the two federal employees in orbit around the Earth — NASA astronauts Karen Nyberg and Michael Hopkins — carried on as usual aboard the International Space Station, with essential employees at Mission Control in Houston supporting the lab and its six inhabitants.
There were no TV or web updates, however, as most of NASA’s workforce was furloughed. In fact, Almost all of NASA shut down, except for Mission Control in Houston - just 550 of NASA’s 18,000 employees were said to have not been effected by the shutdown.
But according to Mother Nature Network, NASA’s asteroid hunting facilities are still open.
“The detection stuff is still going on,” Tim Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., was quoted as saying.
One such initiative is the Catalina Sky Survey in Ariz., a facility credited with finding the majority of objects that have come close to Earth over the past several years. Mother Nature Network learned that it will likely stay open for a while, regardless of how long the shutdown lasts.
The reason asteroid detection facilities have avoided the effects of the shutdown so far is that most of the projects centered around finding asteroids, while they are funded by NASA, receive grant money in such infrequent increments that the shutdown will likely not impede their work.
“Those are typically yearly appointments, so you get your yearly allotment of money, and then you forget about it for a year,” Spahr was quoted as noting to SPACE.com.
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