Asteroids could wipe out humanity unless more effort is made to track and destroy them, a leading body of scientists and astronauts has warned.
Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins are among more than 100 experts calling for the creation of a huge asteroid detection system to prevent a doomsday scenario.
At an event at London's science museum on Wednesday night, Lord Rees read out a declaration resolving to "solve humanity's greatest challenges to safeguard our families and quality of life on Earth in the future."
The Declaration calls for governments to come together to employ all available technology to track near-Earth asteroids as well as a the global adoption of Asteroid Day on June 30 2015 - the anniversary of the asteroid impact at Tunguska, Siberia, which destroyed 800 square miles in 1908.
Lord Rees said: "The ancients were correct in their belief that the heavens and the motion of astronomical bodies affect life on Earth - just not in the way they imagined.
"Sometimes those heavenly bodies run into Earth. This is why we must make it our mission to find asteroids before they find us."
The declaration has been signed scientists, physicists, artists, astronauts and business leaders from 30 countries. Signatories include 38 astronauts and cosmonauts including Helen Sharman ,Tom Jones, Ed Lu, and Rusty Schweickart. Scientists who have signed include Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox, Anousheh Ansari, Kip Thorne, and Stewart Brand.
Systems are already in place to track large asteroids, but recent research suggests that rocks as small as 164 feet across would still be big enough to cause devastating results on Earth.
"NASA has done a very good job of finding the very largest objects, the ones that would destroy the human race," said Ed Lu, an astronaut who flew three trips to the International Space Station.
"It's the ones that would destroy a city or hit the economy for a couple of hundred years that are the problem."
Dr Brian May, astrophysicist and guitarist from Queen is also backing the plan.
"The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time," he said.
"We are currently aware of less than one percent of objects comparable to the one that impacted at Tunguska, and nobody knows when the next big one will hit. It takes just one."
The Founding Partners of Asteroid Day include The Planetary Society, Astronomy Magazine, Association of Space Explorers, California Academy of Sciences, Seattle's Museum of Flight, the Sentinel Mission, and Starmus.
"We have the technology to deflect dangerous asteroids through kinetic impactors and gravity tractors but only if we have years of advance warning of their trajectories" said Dr. Ed Lu, three-time space shuttle astronaut for NASA.
"Now we need the resolve to go forward. It is the only natural disaster we know how to prevent."
"Finding hazardous asteroids early through an accelerated search program is the key to preventing future destructive impacts," said Dr. Tom Jones, veteran shuttle astronaut, planetary scientist, and chairman of the Association of Space Explorers' (ASE) Committee on Near-Earth Objects.
"The 100x Declaration will focus space policymakers on that important goal. ASE called last year for a stepped-up, global search effort; this can lead within a decade to an international deflection demonstration mission to show we know how to nudge an asteroid.
Once we know what's coming, we can design an effective space deflection campaign against dangerous objects we find."
Members of the public are encouraged to go to asteroidday.org to sign up and become a founding member of Asteroid Day.
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