Scientists are very confident they can identify 95% of all asteroids, especially the larger ones, which could impact earth. It’s the other 5% they’re worried about.
The National Science and Technology Council is calling for better asteroid detection, tracking and deflection, charging NASA, federal emergency management personnel, the military and the White House with improved understanding. “When a threat is identified it may be necessary to send a spacecraft to gather more information so we have a better understanding of what the composition of the object is,” says NASA planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson. The panel is looking at ways to deflect an incoming rock. “You take a spacecraft and station it with the asteroid and the mutual gravitation attraction between the two slowly tugs the asteroid off its path,” suggests FEMA’s Leviticus Lewis.
Russia got hit unexpectedly in 2013 when a 66 foot asteroid destroyed thousands of buildings and caused a lot of injuries. An even bigger one hit in 1908, wiping out 770 square miles of forest. If an asteroid that size hit New York City today the death toll would be in the millions.