NASA says it lacks the funds to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially dangerous asteroids and coments by 2020. The cost of this project would be about $1 billion:
"We know what to do, we just don't have the money," said Simon "Pete" Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center.
These are asteroids that are bigger than 460 feet in diameter - slightly smaller than the Superdome in New Orleans. They are a threat even if they don't hit Earth because if they explode while close enough - an event caused by heating in both the rock and the atmosphere - the devastation from the shockwaves is still immense. The explosion alone could have with the power of 100 million tons of dynamite, enough to devastate an entire state, such as Maryland, they said.
The agency is already tracking bigger objects, at least 3,300 feet in diameter, that could wipe out most life on Earth, much like what is theorized to have happened to dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But even that search, which has spotted 769 asteroids and comets - none of which is on course to hit Earth - is behind schedule. It's supposed to be complete by the end of next year.