How to protect Earth from an asteroid strike
At TEDxNASA in San Francisco, former astronaut and physicist Ed Lu discusses the need to develop an early-warning and precision tracking/guidance system to prevent asteroids from hitting the planet.
Speaker: I think you can actually make the case that the biggest disaster possible isn't actually on the earth right now, but it's actually something hitting the earth. I mean, you've all heard how the dinosaurs died, right? We were hit by an asteroid. So how would you go about preventing this? Well, it turns out that the first step that makes complete sense, which if you don't know something is coming, there's nothing you can do about it, right? If you don't know where these are, there's nothing you can do, right? You have to find them, and not only do you have to find them, you have to be able to measure their course accurate enough to know if it's going to hit. Okay, so what do we need to do? We need to have space telescopes. We know how to build space telescopes, right? We built the Hubble. We built the Kepler space telescope. We can do that, right? How about precision guidance so that we can run something into an asteroid? Precision tracking, we know how to do that, right? We've actually run a spacecraft into an -- into a comet, actually. It's a called -- a mission called "Deep Impact." And we've even done this. NASA and the European Space Agency landed a probe on the shore of a lake of a satellite of the planet Saturn. Think about that, all right? We can do this. You know, we have actually priced this out. Our foundation, the B612 Foundation, is actually looked with the experts at how much it would actually cost to build the observatory that gives us advanced warning so that we can stop this threat. It turns out to be a few hundred million dollars. That's expensive, right, but let's put that into perspective. That's about the cost of a municipal civic project, building a museum, performing arts center, a road-widening project in a major street. That's the kind of scale that we're talking about that can protect humanity from this point forward.