NASA has recently announced plans to collaborate with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to find deadly asteroids. The initiative was discussed in the latest episode of NASA's On On Mission podcast by presenter Leslie Mullen and Professor Greg Leonard, a senior NASA researcher who funded Catalina Sky Survey. Professor Leonard claimed that NASA needed "more hands on deck," despite technological advancements and an increase in asteroid discovery rates.
The scientist said, "This is just a recent development because of the great new software and new detection algorithms, the sensors we have. We have really improved our ability to discover these things.
"The era of high-speed computers, great CCDs, these electro-optical sensors, we're just starting to make progress, I think, with technology.
"We're constantly improving systems, which is why detection rates are increasing." But we really have to do a lot more, we need more hands on deck, I think.
"We really need a lot of effort around the world."
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The podcast host said, "Part of Greg's urgency stems from a congressional mandate instructing NASA to find the most asteroids that are 140m or larger by 2020.
"Observers who help NASA work toward this goal are all aware of what they can find. But as Richard said earlier, the smaller asteroids can only be seen as they approach Earth.
"And the little ones can surprise us completely, like the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk."
The asteroids NASA targets are large enough to kill tens of millions of people on Earth.
Tony Dunn, an amateur astronomer, said that RP1 2019 was "undetectable before the next approach because it came from our daytime page, but it was picked up quickly when it invaded our night sky."
NASA estimates that the rock had a diameter between 23 and 56 feet.
This roughly corresponds to the size of the rock that entered our atmosphere in 2013 and exploded over Russia causing great damage.
While 2019 R91 passed without incident, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has warned that the likelihood of impact is greater than people believe.
The NASA Administrator said, "We need to make sure people understand that it's not about Hollywood, it's not about the movies.
"Ultimately, it's about protecting the only planet we know today to house life – and that's planet Earth."