Policy ForumAstronomy

Extraterrestrial Material--Virtual or Real Hazards?

Science  20 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5627, pp. 1882-1883
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077708

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Summary

The risk of asteroid or comet impact is real. Scientists are working to assess and mitigate this risk; about half of the most dangerous projectiles have been discovered. This Policy Forum describes what is necessary to ascertain whether an asteroid, once discovered, is a possible impactor. Although present efforts are effective for kilometer-sized bodies, more resources will be needed for smaller objects. The remaining issues are how to define the next goal for risk reduction and to decide who should provide the resources--those who fund scientific research, the civil defense agencies, or the military?