On Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine warned that meteors that could destroy an entire state in the United States and that they are a real threat to Earth. Bridenstine also claimed that not enough people are taking his warnings seriously enough.
Speaking at the Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, D.C., Bridenstine said: “This is not about Hollywood, this is not about movies, this is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know right now to host life!” And it’s not being taken seriously, according to a report by WRCBTV.
Bridenstine used the meteorite that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 as an example of just how dangerous these space rocks could be to the Earth. The Chelyabinsk meteor had “30 times the energy of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima” and injured around 1,500 people. Just 16 hours after the crash, NASA detected an even larger object that approached the earth but did not actually land on it, he revealed.
“I wish I could tell you that these events are exceptionally unique, but they are not,” Bridenstine said. “These events are not rare — they happen. It’s up to us to make sure that we are characterizing, detecting, tracking all of the near-Earth objects that could be a threat to the world.”
In 2018, the White House published an action plan that required NASA to detect, track, and characterize 90 percent of near-Earth objects measuring 140 meters (460 feet) in diameter. Bridenstine admitted on Monday that the space agency had a long way to go to meet that goal. “We’re only about a third of the way there,” he said. “We want more international partners that can join us in this effort. We want more systems on the face of the Earth that can detect and track these objects, and we want to be able to feed all of that data into one single operating system so that ultimately, we have the best, most accurate data that we can possibly get.
Bridenstine warned that failure to track these near-Earth objects could result in an apocalyptic tragedy. “We know for a fact that the dinosaurs did not have a space program,” he added. “But we do, and we need to use it.”