Scientists told the UN today that the world needs a $100 million system to seek and destroy incoming asteroids, the Guardian reports. Asteroids large enough to cause significant damage strike Earth two or three times every thousand years, they said, and the effects can be catastrophic. "We cannot shirk the responsibility," the panel said.
It added that improved telescopes will enable scientists to study a half million asteroids around the sun by 2020. The most risky will be identified and diverted by space missions, years ahead of a possible impact. No current plan matches what the panel proposed: NASA spends $4 million a year on spotting asteroids, and the European Space Agency plans to study the asteroid Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting Earth.