Former NASA astronaut Russell Schweickart argues in the New York Times that asteroids deserve closer attention for a variety of reasons, most notably the possibility that a large one could slam into Earth someday with devastating results. Schweickart recently co-authored a report that said funding for asteroid detection and deflection capabilities should be included in NASA’s annual budget.
“This is, surprisingly, not an expensive undertaking. Adding just $250 million to $300 million to NASA’s budget would, over the next 10 years, allow for a full inventory of the near-Earth asteroids that could do us harm, and the development and testing of a deflection capacity. Then all we’d need would be an annual maintenance budget of $50 million to $75 million.”