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Critic Accuses NASA of Bad Science; See How NASA Responds

May 26, 2016 08:32 AM EDT

NASA, the premier space agency of the US, is responsible for many advancements in space science. But despite their achievements, Billionaire Nathan Myhrvold is doubtful about the accuracy of their work.

The former Microsoft executive, molecular gastronomist and asteroid aficionado, claims that NASA made a faulty estimation with regard to the size of more than 157,000 asteroids, a comment which garnered interests from in and out of the scientific world.

Myhrvold presented a paper on May 22 to claiming that NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and NEOWISE missions have accumulated statistical mistakes. "I found one irregularity after another" Myhrvold said in an interview.  

An asteroid geek himself, Myhrvold observed that NASA committed numerous mistakes with WISE and NEOWISE published findings of near-Earth asteroids. The paper states that WISE determined the diameter of asteroids 'with an accuracy of better than 10 percent', but for Myhrvold, the errors should be 30 percent. His paper was submitted to Icarus journal for further review.

WISE was launched in 2009 and decommissioned in 2011. NASA said WISE is responsible for discovering a ton of useful data which includes the imaging the most luminous galaxy in the universe, the discovery of the coolest class of stars and for uncovering billions of black holes in the universe. But one of the most special finding by NEOWISE is locating the near-Earth asteroids.

Why then even the slightest difference in statistics matter? Simply because asteroids have a (very little) chance to hit the planet, although the possibly is very small is it still considered a threat to the planet Earth. According to Science Alert, the chance of an asteroid hitting the planet is one in 10,000.

But NASA is not letting Myrvold taint its name. "NASA is confident that the processes and analyses performed by the NEOWISE team are valid and verified and stands by its data and scientific findings," said a NASA Administrator in a press release.


NASA said all their findings underwent rigorous reviews from independent science communities to ensure their accuracy. Myhrvold, on the other hand, is waiting for other independent groups to agree or nullify his claims.


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