Despite the fact that asteroid NT7 is scheduled to wipe out much of humanity and send us back to the Dark Ages when it hits us on February 1st, 2060, there is almost no money available for research on how to deflect it. NASA has identified and tracked 2,027 asteroids and comets that might come close to Earth.
The U.S. spends between $3.5 and $4 million each year tracking asteroids and comets that might hit Earth at some point, but once we’ve found one, there no money on hand to figure out what to do about it. NASA?s Don Yeomans says, “What if you do find one with our name on it, then whose responsibility is it? You assume it would be the military’s, but which one??NASA’s charter is to find them and track them. That’s it.”
Since 1998, NASA has been searching for the largest asteroids, with diameters of .6 miles or more. An asteroid this size could eradicate humans as a species, or send them back to the dark ages, says Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute. But smaller rocks, about 1,000 feet across, could still destroy cities, cause huge tsunami waves and flatten an area the size of New Jersey, according to Erik Asphaug of the University of California at Santa Cruz. “From the point of economic harm and lives lost today, it’s probably the [300 yard] asteroid that is the worst,” Asphaug says. The likelihood of one of these hitting Earth is 10 times higher than a .6 mile space rock. Compared to natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, the U.S. has made little or no preparation for what to do in the event an asteroid hits us.
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