Nasa Shuts Down 'Asteroid Watch' In Wake Of US Government Crisis

Among the many government agencies and functions shut down in the wake of the American Congress' stand-off with President Obama over healthcare, few can send out tweets quite this terrifying to the rest of the world:

That's right, Nasa's Asteroid Watch twitter account is among those elements of the world's largest space agency which has been forced to close in the wake of the political earthquake occurring in Washington. In practice, that doesn't mean much - there are still astronomers watching for asteroids around the world, and we're still -- by Nasa's admission -- unable to do anything about them either way.

But the reaction has been, if not panicked, at least mildly concerned among those paying attention on Twitter:

Nasa itself is also affected for the duration, with all of its public-facing activities completely shut down.

Fortunately, there are still many people watching the skies for catastrophic asteroid impacts. The European Space Agency is still open for business, for instance. Nasa has also provided a reassuringly dense list of other authorities watching for dangerous rocks.

Nasa said:

More than 800,000 federal workers have been forced to stay at home during the crisis, which is the first of its kind for 17 years.