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Asteroid Impact: Scientists Call for More Resources, Ask for Greater Prevention

Over 100 scientists, including astronauts, have signed a declaration in which they ask for more resources to prevent asteroid strikes against Earth and raise awareness about the danger such strikes could pose.

In an event held simultaneously in London and San Francisco on Wednesday, six of the signatories presented the “100x Asteroid Declaration” which says that without human intervention, the impact of asteroids on Earth could cause great damage societies, communities and families.

According to the scientists, asteroid strikes are natural phenomena which, unlike many others, can be prevented, and that the technology necessary to do so already exists provided a “dangerous” asteroid is detected in time.

“We have the technology to deflect dangerous asteroids through kinetic impactors and gravity tractors but only if we have years of advance warning of their trajectories,” said US astronaut Ed Lu, co-founder of the nonprofit B612 Foundation.

It is estimated that there are close to one million asteroids in the solar system “that could wipe out a city” although till now only 10,000 of them, or 1 percent, have been tracked so far.

The scientists believe it is vital to increase this percentage and find potentially hazardous asteroids that, with sufficient notice, could be nudged on to harmless trajectories.

For that reason, “100x Asteroid Declaration” asked governments all over the world as well as private and philanthropic organisations to “employ the available technology to detect and track near-Earth asteroids that threaten human populations”.

The declaration also calls for “a rapid hundredfold (100x) acceleration of the discovery and tracking of near-Earth objects” and the “global adoption of Asteroid Day June 30, 2015, to heighten awareness of the asteroid hazard and efforts to prevent future impacts”.

The current annual global budget for prevention of asteroid impact is $45 million, most of which comes from funds from the US’s NASA space agency and the European Space Agency.

However, the scientific community has said that this amount should be significantly increased over the next few years. (IANS)


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