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MOSCOW, May 22 (Itar-Tass) - Russia is unprepared to join the European system of early warnings of meteorites even if such a proposal is made. Although the country just recently experienced a powerful meteorite strike, such a program has not been given a go ahead and Russia has nothing to contribute to the European “meteorite pool,” the chief of the space astrometry department at the RAS Institute of Astronomy, Lidiya Rykhlova, told ITAR-TASS.
“If the idea of joining the Europeans is to be discussed, the main question is what is it that can share with them. We have not a single decent telescope left,” Rykhlova said in the wake of a report the Frascati Laboratory under the European Space Research Institute was opening a coordinating center to monitor space objects approaching the Earth. “The one who joins an international project is to contribute something in order not to be an outcast. This is to be done on the parity basis. In the meantime there is very little apart from fine words that we can offer.”
The coordinating center in Italy is opening within the framework of the European Space Agency’s program for creating a unified system of early warning of meteorites. Rykhlova said Russia is not creating such a system of its own even after the large meteorite that fell near Chelyabinsk on February 15 showed the threat posed by space objects was quite real.
“No development at all, nothing. All is quiet,” Rykhlova said. “Roscosmos has said that they will remain focused entirely on space launches. As for optical ground-based astronomy, it is the Academy of Science’s cup of tea.”
Regrettably, the RAS does not have the money for this. Besides, the academy is on the eve of electing its new president, due on May 29, Rykhlova said, adding that some specialists pinned certain hopes on this event.
“I believe that if Vladimir Fortov is elected, he will pay attention to this problem. He studied the issue himself and was very much interested. Possibly, there will be some progress,” Rykhlova said.
On the whole space objects monitoring services are booming around the world. In the United States alone there are several of them.
“One monitoring service has discovered an asteroid and will be monitoring it. Although it does not pose any threat, the asteroid is quite remarkable. To put it in a nutshell, they go ahead step by step, systematically, under a plan, and one can only envy this.”