An excellent and timely question, asked by Emi Kolawole at the Washington Post:
Seriously, why aren’t all of America’s best and brightest working feverishly to keep us from being struck by an asteroid that could wipe a city (or more) from the face of the Earth? A cure for cancer, balancing the nation’s federal budget, and eliminating world hunger would all be rendered moot if an asteroid pulverized the planet.
Granted, as the Post’s Brian Vastag reports, neither a city-destroying nor Earth-ending space rock is on anywhere near an immediate collision course with the planet — for now. (Seriously, don’t panic.) But the anticipated near-miss of asteroid 2012 DA14 by 17,000 miles on Feb. 15 should inspire every innovator to want to figure out how to make Earth asteroid-proof, right?
Now, of course, there are a number of people working on how to keep Earth safe from asteroids and other potentially Earth-threatening debris. There are so many, in fact, that there is an internationalPlanetary Defense Conference in Flagstaff, Ariz., in April.
And, as NASA Spokesman David Agle wrote via an e-mail Monday:
NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. Literally dozens of people are involved with some aspect of our near-Earth object (NEO) research across NASA and its centers. Moreover, there are many people involved in researching and understanding the nature of asteroids and comets, including those that come close to the Earth, as well as those who are trying to find and track them in the first place.