NASA’s near-Earth object (NEO) tracking program has only, thus far, been able to identify 10 percent of the medium-sized asteroids that might pose a threat to human life and civilization — meaning that if such an object were to head our way, it more than likely would go undetected. “[G]iven its current pace and resources… [the program] will not meet the goal of identifying 90 percent of such objects by 2020,” NASA Inspector General Paul Martin wrote in a report released September 15.
In the past five years, the NEO tracking program has seen a 10-fold increase in its budget, from $4 million to $40 million per year. Since 1998, the space administration has spent $100 million on the endeavor — all aimed at the goal of tracking 90 percent of dangerous asteroids by 2020. Yet according to the report, this increased spending has not led to improved tracking capabilities. READ MORE