NASA has doubled its costs to help detect and eventually divert asteroids when it collides with Earth.
Next year, the US Space Agency plans to spend $ 150 million on its so-called "planetary defense" programs. Part of the money will go to developing systems for detecting asteroids and comets, such as a football-sized space rock that went 55,000 mph in the summer. It was only noticed by astronomers 24 hours after it passed .
This near, passing asteroid was characterized as an "urban killer" by Swansea University professor of astronomy at Swinburne Alan Duffy. If it were to collide, it would have hit more than 30 times Earth's energy at the Hiroshima nuclear blast, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein likened it to a meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 201
Although NASA missed this relatively small asteroid, the agency is "really good at characterizing, cataloging and tracking objects by a kilometer or more." large, which is the type of object that can permanently damage the Earth, Bridenstein said. But NASA is investing in opportunities to discover these smaller sites.
According to NASA's budget estimates, the agency has been steadily increasing its Planet Defense funding over the last few years. This program received $ 60 million in funding for fiscal 2017, $ 76 million for 2018 and expects to receive $ 150 million in 2020. Figures for 2019 were unavailable because budgets were not adopted, according to the budget report of NASA.
The double asteroid test or DART mission that aims to "change the movement of an asteroid in space" receives most of the funding for planetary defense. DART functions by colliding into potentially dangerous asteroids at a speed of approximately 6.6 kilometers per second, or 14.764 mph, to change the speed of the incoming asteroid.
A DART demonstration will occur in 2021 and will affect an asteroid of similar size to one that passed through Earth in July – approximately 160 meters across. This, according to NASA, is "more typical of the size of asteroids that could be the most likely significant threat to Earth."
Click here to read more from FOX Business  Allaying fearing an astronomical catastrophe such as our ancestors endured in the Jurassic, Bridenstein reminds us that "the difference between us and the dinosaurs is that we have a space program and are tracking these objects."