National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chief Charles Bolden has advice on how to handle a large asteroid headed toward New York City — pray.
That is about all the US — or anyone for that matter — could do at this point about unknown asteroids and meteors that may be on a collision course with Earth, Bolden told lawmakers at a US House of Representatives Science Committee hearing on March 19.
An asteroid estimated to have been about 17m in diameter exploded on Feb. 15 over Chelyabinsk, Russia, generating shock waves that shattered windows and damaged buildings. More than 1,500 people were injured.
Later that day, a larger, unrelated asteroid discovered last year passed about 27,681km from Earth, closer than the network of television and weather satellites that ring the planet.
The events “serve as evidence that we live in an active solar system with potentially hazardous objects passing through our neighborhood with surprising frequency,” said Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat.
NASA has found and is tracking about 95 percent of the largest objects flying near Earth, those that are 1km or larger in diameter.