News FocusPlanetary Science

The Save-the-World Foundation

Science  23 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6148, pp. 837-839
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6148.837

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Summary

There may be a million asteroids with masses far greater than ocean liners in Earth-approaching orbits, nearly all of which telescopes have yet to see. Some of those Near-Earth Objects are potential killers. Those at least 40 meters across could wipe out a metropolis; a kilometer-wide asteroid could devastate part of a continent and shroud the planet in soot. NASA-sponsored searches, mostly from the ground, have found most of the kilometer-size, civilization-threatening asteroids, but only a fraction—perhaps 1%—of the smaller, but still menacing, objects. Convinced that NASA will not finish the job, two former astronauts have founded a private foundation to raise $450 million for a space mission to find asteroids that may threaten our planet.

  • * Robert Irion directs the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.