President Obama was not briefed about an asteroid passing relatively close to Earth because there was no danger, a White House spokesman said Friday.
“It’s my understanding that scientists have concluded that the asteroid poses no threat to planet Earth,” said White House deputy press secretary Joshua Earnest. “Since it doesn’t pose a threat to planet Earth, I’m not sure it necessitated a briefing.”
Asked who gave the White House assurances about the asteroid posing no danger, Mr. Earnest said it was the conclusion of scientists, although he didn’t know if they were from NASA.
The space rock that’s about the length of the Golden Gate bridge is passing within about 3.6 million miles of Earth on Friday, which scientists term a relatively close call. Interest in the event prompted the White House and NASA to host an online discussion about asteroids on the White House’s web site Friday.
NASA’s 2014 budget sets aside $78 million as down-payment for an asteroid-capture mission, and the agency could spend up to $2.6 billion by 2025 on the project.
“The president does believe that scientific exploration and the study of these kinds of asteroids is a worthwhile endeavor,” Mr. Earnest said.