Malik 2010 (Tariq, Managing Editor, Space.com “NASA’s New Asteroid Mission Could Save the Planet,” 4/16/10, http://www.space.com/8240-nasa-asteroid-mission-save-planet.html, znf)
Scientists estimate there are about 100,000 asteroids and comets near Earth, but only about 20,000 are expected to pose any risk of impact. NASA has found about 7,000 of those objects, 1,000 of them flying in orbits that could potentially threaten the Earth in the future, NASA scientists have said. Astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said there are about a dozen near-Earth asteroids that could be within reach of manned spacecraft, but most of those are relatively small. To make a crewed mission worth it, the target space rock would likely have to be at least 300 feet (100 meters) wide. For comparison, the space rock that exploded in a magnificent fireball over Wisconsin this week was just 3 feet (1 meter) wide, Yeomans said. "If you could study a few of them up-close, you get a better idea on how best to deflect them," Yeomans told SPACE.com.? And more asteroids are being found all the time. NASA's WISE infrared space telescope is discovering dozens of asteroids every day that were previously unknown. New surveys and spacecraft will add to that space rock bounty over the next 15 years to offer more candidates for a crewed asteroid mission, Yeomans said
Asteroids are a real threat, the chance we are killed by an asteroid in our life time is only slightly more than that of dying in an airplane crash.
National Space Society 97 [Society for the Study and Exploration of Space, NSS Chapters, “Asteroids: Backgrounder and Talking Points,” February 6, 1997, SM, Accessed: 7/11/11]
** Are asteroids a real threat? Yes. Scientists believe the dinosaurs became extinct as the result of an asteroid ten miles in diameter impacting the Earth near what's now the Yucatan 65 million years ago, causing massive earth upheaval, a huge crater and a mile-high tidal wave that swept what is now the eastern United States.The threat of a cataclysmic impact continues today. In 1908 a comet exploded over Siberia with a force of at least ten megatons leveling a forest 50 miles across. On Nov. 22, 1996 a small asteroid hit Honduras and made a crater 165 feet wide. In recent years, scientists have come to recognize just how much of Earth's surface evolution has been rapidly driven by catastrophic events such as asteroid strikes. ** What are the odds? Experts estimate that an asteroid capable of cataclysmic impact on life on Earth hits once every 300,000 to one million years, meaning a one in 6,000 or one in 20,000 chance of one hitting in the next 50 years. According to planetary scientists Chapman and Morrison (1991), an individual's chance of dying from large scale devastation caused by a "doomsday" asteroid is 1 in 30,000, slightly higher than the lifetime chance of dying in an airplane crash (1 in 20,000).
Asteroid Impact by 2036
Asteroids are predicted to strike the Earth by 2036 – we have no planetary defense against them.
Schweickart 2007(Russell L., Apollo Astronaut, The New York Times, “The Sky Is Falling. Really.” March 16, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/16/opinion/16schweickart.html, znf)
AMERICANS who read the papers or watch Jay Leno have been aware for some time now that there isa slim but real possibility — about 1 in 45,000 — that an 850-foot-long asteroid called Apophis could strike Earth with catastrophic consequences on April 13, 2036. What few probably realize is that there are thousands of other space objects that could hit us in the next century that could cause severe damage, if not total destruction. Last week two events in Washington — a conference on “planetary defense” held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the release by NASA of a report titled “Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Analysis of Alternatives” — gave us good news and bad on this front. On the promising side, scientists have a good grasp of the risks of a cosmic fender-bender, and have several ideas that could potentially stave off disaster. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem to have any clear plan to put this expertise into action. In 1998, Congress gave NASA’s Spaceguard Survey program a mandate of “discovering, tracking, cataloging and characterizing” 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer (3,200 feet) wide by 2008. An object that size could devastate a small country and would probably destroy civilization. The consensus at the conference was that the initial survey is doing fairly well although it will probably not quite meet the 2008 goal. Realizing that there are many smaller but still terribly destructive asteroids out there, Congress has modified the Spaceguard goal to identify 90 percent of even smaller objects — 460 feet and larger — by 2020. This revised survey, giving us decades of early warning, will go a long way toward protecting life on the planet in the future.
Without deflection the asteroid Apophis is going to impact earth with catastrophic results. We have to act now – later is too late.
Noland 2006(David, Popular Mechanics, “5 Plans to Head Off the Apophis Killer Asteroid,”
November 7, 2006. http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/deep/4201569, znf)
Maybe. Scientists calculate that if Apophis passes at a distance of exactly 18,893 miles, it will go through a "gravitational keyhole." This small region in space--only about a half mile wide, or twice the diameter of the asteroid itself--is where Earth's gravity would perturb Apophis in just the wrong way, causing it to enter an orbit seven-sixths as long as Earth's. In other words, the planet will be squarely in the crosshairs for a potentially catastrophic asteroid impact precisely seven years later, on April 13, 2036. Radar and optical tracking during Apophis's fly-by last summer put the odds of the asteroid passing through the keyhole at about 45,000-to-1. "People have a hard time reasoning with low-probability/high-consequence risks," says Michael DeKay of the Center for Risk Perception and Communication at Carnegie Mellon University. "Some people say, 'Why bother, it's not really going to happen.' But others say that when the potential consequences are so serious, even a tiny risk is unacceptable." Former astronaut Rusty Schweickart, now 71, knows a thing or two about objects flying through space, having been one himself during a spacewalk on the Apollo 9 mission in 1969. Through the B612 Foundation, which he co-founded in 2001, Schweickart has been prodding NASA to do something about Apophis--and soon. "We need to act," he says. "If we blow this, it'll be criminal." If the dice do land the wrong way in 2029, Apophis would have to be deflected by some 5000 miles to miss the Earth in 2036. Hollywood notwithstanding, that's a feat far beyond any current human technology. The fanciful mission in the 1998 movie Armageddon--to drill a hole more than 800 ft. into an asteroid and detonate a nuclear bomb inside it--is about as technically feasible as time travel. In reality, after April 13, 2029, there would be little we could do but plot the precise impact point and start evacuating people