Photo: Trees lay strewn across the Siberian countryside 45 years after a meteorite struck the Earth near Tunguska, Russia in this 1953 photo.
By Marc Kaufman
Updated: March 09, 2007
The risk that an asteroid capable of wiping out humanity will crash into Earth is minuscule, new calculations suggest, but the chances of a smaller one destroying a city or setting off a catastrophic tsunami remain unclear and may be higher than previous estimates.
The calculations were presented at a four-day meeting in Washington this week, leading scores of scientists present to conclude that NASA needs to move aggressively to meet a congressional deadline for identifying most of the potentially hazardous smaller asteroids and to develop ways to deflect them if they home in on Earth.
But in a report released to Congress yesterday, the space agency said it does not have the funds to do the precautionary work, called for in its 2005 authorization bill.