60-Second Space

Astronaut Sounds Alarm On Asteroids

At a symposium on the danger of asteroid impacts, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart said it's time for the planet to develop a strategy should a big rock come our way. Clara Moskowitz reports.

If a big asteroid with Earth’s name on it were to reach us unimpeded, well, we could go the way of the dinosaurs. So a group of astronauts is advising the U.N. on a plan to protect the planet.

“This is taking responsibility for the survival of life on planet Earth.”

Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart on October 25th, at a discussion of the issue at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, its dinosaur skeletons a reminder of the danger of being unprepared.

Last week, the General Assembly approved a preliminary set of asteroid defense measures. For example, a system for nations to share info about incoming space rocks. And a coordinated mission to deflect any asteroids found to be on a collision course with Earth. 

“The biggest problem right now institutionally is…no government in the world today has explicitly assigned the responsibility for planetary deflection to any of its agencies.”

“NASA does not have an explicit responsibility to deflect an asteroid, nor does any other space agency.”

Ultimately, the Earth’s nations must work together to combat this extraterrestrial threat. Because when it comes to space rocks, they are definitely out there.

—Clara Moskowitz

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.] 

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