Greg Leonard, a senior researcher at the NASA financed Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), put the probability at “one hundred percent” unless changes are made. He was speaking to science writer Bryan Walsh for his new book, ‘End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World’.
Mr Leonard is also a professor at New Zealand’s University of Otago, where he forms part of the school of surveying.
However he did also admit that the chances of being killed by an asteroid are currently lower than dying after an asteroid strike.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory each year an asteroid roughly the size of a car entered the Earth’s atmosphere, but usually burn up without causing damage.
However the impact of a much larger rock could be catastrophic for the human species if it hits Earth, fundamentally changing the planets environment.
“If we do nothing, sooner or later, there’s a one hundred percent chance that one will get us”
The warning was made by Greg Leonard, a senior researcher at the NASA financed Catalina Sky Survey.
Referring to asteroids Mr Leonard commented: “I also know that if we do nothing, sooner or later, there’s a one hundred percent chance that one will get us.
“So I feel privileged to be doing something.”
A giant asteroid strike, likely by a rock a few kilometres across, is believed to have been responsible for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.
This took place 66 million years ago wiping out around three quarters of animal species on Earth, including the dinosaurs.
Greg Leonard was speaking to science writer Bryan Walsh for his new book
Mr Leonard’s comments came after NASA admitted it only spotted a potentially dangerous asteroid hurtling towards Earth just hours before it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
The asteroid, 2019 MO, burned up in the atmosphere above the Caribbean on June 29.
It was identified by NASA around 300,000 miles from Earth.
This is further away from our planet than the Moon.
In February 2013 as asteroid broke up over Chelyabinsk in Russia injuring 1,200
In a statement NASA claimed this was “roughly the equivalent of spotting something the size of a gnat from a distance of 310 miles”.
The asteroid was detected by the ATLAS survey telescope situated at the University of Hawaii.
Data was passed to the NASA financed Minor Planet Centre, who calculated the asteroid was on a collision course with Earth.
Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, commented: “Asteroids this size are far smaller than what we’re tasked to track.
NASA finds smaller asteroids particularly hard to track
“They’re so small, they would not survive passing through our atmosphere to cause damage to Earth’s surface.
“But this event shows how capable our search programs are, even for objects of such small sizes.”
No casualties or damage were reported when 2019 MO burned up over the Caribbean.
NASA tends to focus its attention on larger asteroids, which are easier to detect and potentially more dangerous.
A giant asteroid strike is believed to have been responsible for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction
However smaller asteroids can also cause significant damage.
In February 2013 as asteroid broke up over Chelyabinsk in Russia injuring 1,200 and damaging at least 7,000 buildings.
The asteroid in question was approximately the same size as a six-story building.