The threat of asteroids has never, and will never, go away. However, it has been 66 million years since a life-destroying space rock came crashing into our planets, so scientists could be forgiven for putting it to the back of their minds. However, Bill Nye, who is CEO of the Planetary Society, has urged the US President and his administration to take the threat of asteroids more seriously.
The Planetary Society said: “Take active steps to protect the planet from dangerous asteroids and comets.”
The organisation has called for a $50m annual increase to NASA’s Planetary Defense Program in order to “better support the detection, tracking, and characterisation of threats by supporting a permanent flight program in addition to ground-based observation efforts.”
NASA has made great strides in discovering near-Earth objects that are over one kilometre in size, with 90 percent now accounted for.
However, this means there is still 10 percent of dangerous asteroids that have not been spotted.
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one in 300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
Other proposals were outlined in the report: “Deepen our commitment to NASA’s science programs.
“Continue human spaceflight on the path from the Moon to Mars.
“Use NASA as a tool to grow our economy, enhance our manufacturing base, nurture our skilled workforce, and strengthen international alliances.
“Implement the ‘5 over 5’ plan: annual five percent increases to NASA’s budget over the next five years.”
Mr Nye, who rose to fame as Bill Nye The Science Guy, a popular American children’s show in the 90s, said in an accompanying video statement: “By the end of the decade I believe we could see humans return to the Moon.
“I believe we could see a fleet of spacecraft exploring our nearby worlds, searching for life and peering deeper into the cosmos than ever before.
“We could better understand the Earth’s climate. Just think, your gift to the future could be a Mars rock, collected by men and women of this generation, sitting in the Oval Office of a future President.
“President Biden and Vice-President Harris, I urge you to embrace the opportunity that is NASA. Space exploration is not something done ‘out there’.
“It’s done here, for all of us, in our nation, and on Earth.”