Russian Official Urges Creation of Tech to Prevent Earth and 'Celestial Bodies' Colliding

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, sees collisions with celestial bodies as a potentially significant threat to the earth, making the need for technology to prevent that from happening of the utmost importance.

Speaking at the Global Space Exploration Conference in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, Rogozin told attendees that there's no current technology to change the trajectory of celestial bodies. Without that technology, there's no means of "warding off the danger" a potential collision poses to the Earth, according to Rogozin.

While the head of Roscosmos sees the technology as necessary for the planet's survival, he's not confident one, single country has the capabilities to create it. Calling it a "common task to protect our planet," TASS reported that Rogozin sees it as one of the most important tasks for cosmonautics.

"The most important task is how to protect the planet from hazardous collisions with celestial bodies that may ruin the civilization," the Roscosmos chief said at the conference.

Lindley Johnson, a planetary defense officer at NASA headquarters, told Newsweek NASA, Roscosmos and 17 other national space agencies or offices are members of a group that's planning technologies and techniques for deflecting an asteroid while it's still in space. NASA encourages broad participation in the forums for planning planetary defense capabilities, Johnson added.

roscosmos asteroid technology earth collision
Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, called creating technology to change the trajectory of celestial bodies that are on course to hit the Earth a "top priority" for the world. Rogozin attends a meeting with high-ranked officers, defense and military officials at Bocharov ruchey State Residence in Sochi, Russia, May 17, 2018. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Asteroids colliding with Earth is one theory of how the planet evolved, causing the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Earth hasn't had a significant hit from an asteroid in decades, but in June, there was a close call.

An asteroid, known as 2021 KT1 that is about 600 feet, equivalent to the Seattle Space Needle, is considered a "potentially hazardous object," according to NASA. It flew within 4.6 million miles of Earth, a distance that's considered near in space terms, at 40,000 miles per hour.

Another asteroid, known as 2021 GW4, was traveling at 187,000 miles per hour when it came within 12,000 miles of Earth's service in April.

"We repeat this is an absolutely safe close approach. Asteroids of that size coming so close are relatively rare, but so far this year we had four objects coming within 0.07 lunar distance from Earth's center: 2021 GW4 is the largest of these four rocks," Gianluca Masi, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, told USA Today.

The possibility of an asteroid hitting the Earth is one that NASA takes seriously and in April, scientists engaged in simulations to anticipate how the U.S. should respond in that situation. Unfortunately, according to Business Insider, the team found that six months would not be enough time for America to prepare for an asteroid hitting and there would be nothing anyone could do to keep it from hitting Earth.

"What that means is, for now, we are relying on luck to keep us safe from major asteroid impacts," Richard Binzel, an astronomer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Business Insider. "But luck is not a plan."

One solution to a potential asteroid threat that NASA's getting ready to test is sending a spacecraft to knock the asteroid off its trajectory. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test's launch window begins on November 24, with the intention of intercepting the secondary body of the Didymos asteroid. The collision would happen when the asteroid is within 11 million kilometers of Earth so that researchers can observe the change in momentum with ground-based telescopes and planetary radar.

In March, another concerning asteroid, named Apophis, passed within 17 million kilometers of Earth. Considered to be one of the most dangerous asteroids facing Earth, NASA's calculations, fortunately, determined they don't believe there's a risk of it hitting Earth for at least the next 100 years.

This article has been updated with comment from NASA.