Around 66 million years back, a giant space rock that screeched across space at a mindblowing speed hit the earth with its full fury and this catastrophic event on the heart of blue planet resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs.
Until then, no such space bodies have approached earth, but several space experts including Dr Iain McDonald believe that such an event will happen in the future. As threats surrounding a possible catastrophic space rock hit looms up, NASA, the United States agency is apparently taking all preventive measures to protect the planet from a dangerous collision.
Near-earth object surveillance mission
NASA has named this new mission 'Near-earth object surveillance mission'. As per reports, the government has apparently issued $35.6 million for this project, and in the coming years, the primary goal of scientists working under this mission will be tracking hazardous space rocks that may pose threat to the earth in the future.
As a part of this project, a satellite equipped with an infrared camera will be launched to space, and it will hunt for asteroids in the near vicinity of the earth.
Detecting the unknown doomsday asteroid
NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object System has already tracked thousands of dangerous space rocks that may pose a threat to the earth in the future. The purpose of the new mission is to detect unknown doomsday asteroids that may collide with the earth in the present or next century.
"This mission would answer a fundamental question: Are there asteroids or comets out there that can cause harm to the Earth over the next century? We have learned a lot from NEOWISE about how many asteroids are dark versus bright, and it's been a valuable precursor mission, but it has now operated long past its expected lifespan.
With the NEO Surveyor spacecraft, we can use what we've learned from NEOWISE to build a more highly capable and long-lasting spacecraft that will greatly complement the existing network of ground-based telescopes searching the skies for hazardous objects," said Professor Amy Mainzer, a researcher at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in a recent statement published in the University of Arizona website.
In the meantime, the development work of NASA's planetary defence weapon is also progressing steadily. The ultimate purpose of this defence weapon is to deflect an asteroid from its original collision course trajectory.