Tokyo: Astronaut Soichi Noguchi and his predecessors in New York City have asked world governments to prepare to protect humanity from asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
Three former US astronauts and one from Romania appeared along with Noguchi on behalf of the Association of Space Explorers, a professional organization for crew on space flights, the Japan Times reported.
Noguchi said at a news conference at the American Natural History Museum that the very first step is to find where those objects are and track (them).
To that end, the five astronauts said governments around the globe should help fund the launch of a space-based telescope by 2020 and start a mission to test asteroid deflection capabilities within ten years.
Only 1 percent of potentially dangerous asteroids have been detected by ground-based telescopes , they said.
They also emphasized the need to include asteroids in national disaster plans and budgets, and to designate each country`s national agency in charge of responding to asteroid threats.
Once spotted, a potentially devastating asteroid could be pushed off a collision course by a spacecraft.
Their proposed defense system could prevent an asteroid of up to 400 meters in diameter from striking the earth. For an even larger one, multiple rockets could be used to fragment it.