'Praying' only option for US in case of Russia-like meteor strike, says NASA
Washington, Mar. 20 : NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. has said 'praying' is the only option the US would have if a meteor similar to the one that hit in Russia on February 15 was found to be on a path toward New York City, with impact three weeks away.
The US and the rest of the world simply do not have the ability to detect many "small" meteors like the one that exploded over Russia, which has been estimated at roughly 55 feet long, stated the CBS News report.
Donald Yeomans, Manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office and the author of "Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us", said there are a lot of small meteors in orbit, and little early warning system in place to detect them.
Yeomans said the most efficient way to find them would be a space-based infrared telescope. This has two benefits: One, the sun would not serve to prevent detection of some objects, and two, the infrared nature of the telescope would mean it would be effective in detecting them.
Yeomans also called for ground-based wide field optical telescopes that could scan vast regions of the sky each night. He said, if such an object is discovered to be approaching Earth, the leading contender to address the problem would be to crash a spacecraft into it in order to slow it down and alter its course.
Despite the events of February 15, when the meteor hit in Russia and, separately, an asteroid passed just 17,000 miles from Earth, Americans should not anticipate a significant impact anytime soon.
An asteroid known as Apophis, which is about 1,000 feet wide and has the potential to wipe a nation off the face of the planet in a direct hit, is expected to come within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029.