NASA wants amateur astronomers to track ‘dangerous’ asteroids

Here’s your chance to save the planet!  NASA has called on amateur astronomers and other citizen-scientists to help identify the smaller and potentially destructive asteroids lurking in the cosmos, which could wipe out a city upon impact with Earth. 

Scientists estimate that about 90 per cent of asteroids that are one kilometre or larger which pose potential planet-wide danger have been surveyed. However, more than 99 per cent of asteroids that are 30 to 40 meters in size which might not destroy the planet, but could very easily wipe out a city – have yet to be found and tracked, the ‘National Geographic’ reported. 

NASA’s announcement this week comes four months after an 18-meter-long asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February.


Full 52 minute NOVA Show : 


On the same day, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 brushed past Earth from a distance of less than 28,000 kilometres away. 

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (BCAB) has classified two major threats to the human race :

• the threat that near-Earth asteroids are posing for the human race

• the threat that “inbound” viruses and bacteria are also posing to human race

Wickramasinghe is recognized as the father of modern day astrobiology. He is certainly the person who has done most to influence the global development of this newly emerging science which builds upon a substantial knowledge-base from the quite separate disciplines of mathematics, physics, biology and paleontology.

On June 18, 2013 Ed Lu, ex-NASA astronaut, praised the White House and NASA announcement. “This directly mirrors the mission of the non-profit private B612 Foundation and our Sentinel Mission, and we strongly applaud NASA and the Obama Administration for their leadership in raising the visibility of this critical issue and for establishing detection of asteroids as a national priority.  The Administration has called for a team “of the best and brightest” working on this together and we look forward to increased collaboration and partnership.

The latest estimate is that there are one million asteroids with the potential to impact Earth with energy large enough to obliterate any major city. We believe that the goal must be to find these one million asteroids – anything less, in our opinion, would not meet the intent of this Grand Challenge.


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