Friday's meteor landing in Russia's Ural mountains was not supposed to even hit Earth by all media reports. That meteor caused hundreds of injuries, and couldn’t be detected with existing telescopes. "What happened on that day is historic, no one has ever been hurt before", said James Green director of planetary science at NASA headquarters.
This is why we must rather quickly come up with technology, that will detect flying meteors or asteroids above the Earth's atmosphere and have them be destroyed via a satellite system above the Earth's atmosphere or possible impact occurs.
NASA wants to be the first line of defense. NASA, in 2007 issued a report estimating 20,000 asteroids and comets orbited the Earth to deliver blows that could destroy cities or even end all life. NASA, today is limited by finance. Other private groups are emerging.
A group called B612 Foundation, named after the imaginary asteroid on which the Little Prince lived, is one of several pursuing ways to ward of extraterrestrial threats . This is a group made up of veteran astronauts and investors from Silicon Valley. Since our government is involved in more earthly priorities, B612 plans to make this telescope and see themselves as the world's first private mission to deep space. The project launches a large telescope into space and would orbit the Sun, peering across the solar system and finding these large space rocks in adequate time. The mission is called Sentinel. The space system could be ready by 2017. Cost for this mission are estimated at $450 million including launching, insurance and operations. The group also is far from reaching their financial goal and has been soliciting funds from private citizens. After Friday's asteroid hit, the Foundation has received thousands of Web site and Twitter account hits. They have also been receiving thousands of calls. It looks that everybody is noticing their importance and they look as if they will complete their funding in time to launch their project successfully.
Planetary Resources is another group which has attracted investors like Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. Their mission being not only to detect them but to mine them. They also plan to develop telescopes that would hunt these asteroids coming close to Earth. They would use these asteroids to provide supplies to future interplanetary travelers as well as to bring back metals like platinum.
NASA plans to launch a mission in 2016 that will fly an asteroid, and by 2023, bring the asteroid back to Earth in order to studiy it. There is a poor people's project in Antarctica (The Antarctic Search for Meteorites Project) that has been working for the past 37 years which has been studying asteroids (even parts of the Moon and Mars). This project has only cost 45 million for all these years, and it works effectively. The Mars project (the Curiosity Rover Mission), get samples of Mars, but will never reach Earth and it cost 2.5 billion dollars. Unfortunately, these projects don't give protection to the planet nor do they give an economic function.
There is a new proposal by two California scientists. They propose a laser device and their project is called the Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, or DE-STAR for short. The idea might be good but too far away, because the main issue is the development of an aggressive telescope, which will take several years, and then the analysis of which would be the best platform for these lasers.
There is no doubt that private enterprise can now develop solutions for our longetivity with far less money.