Asteroids can pose a risk to life on Earth, and more needs to be done to protect humanity, an expert has warned. The dinosaurs’ reign on Earth was brought to a fiery end 66 million years ago when a 10-mile-wide space rock collided with the planet. And while humanity is more prepared than the ancient beasts, there is a lot more still to be done, according to one astronaut.
Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA), has warned there are more than a million asteroids that experts know of which could hit Earth at some point.
While Mr Nespoli concedes many of these asteroids are small enough to not be considered a threat, some of them would be reminiscent of the dinosaur killer.
Mr Nespoli tweeted: “Between small and big, there are more than 1 million asteroids out there that could hit the Earth.
“Right now, we are mostly ignoring the probability of a massive one suddenly appearing. It’s time to act.”
NASA has made great strides in discovering near-Earth objects that are over one kilometre in size, with 90 percent now accounted for.
However, this means there is still 10 percent of dangerous asteroids that have not been spotted.
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one in 300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
In 2013, a 65ft (20m) meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, smashing windows and caused injuries to more than 1,000 people.
NASA fears the asteroid, which has the potential to wipe out an entire country on Earth, could hit our planet within the next 120 years, with the next close flyby in 2135.
The mission will give vital information on how to deflect asteroids from their collision course with Earth.
But NASA reiterated, while there is a small chance Earth could be impacted, “over millions of years, of all of the planets, Bennu is most likely to hit Venus.”