This is scary.
We're on a collision course with a giant rock from outer space only we don't know when it will happen or if we'll even be here when it does. You'd think that given this inevitable event, we might devote more of our attention to exploring space in order to identify Near Earth Objects and come up with ways we might prevent them from smashing into our planet.
But we don't. There are more kids in the average elementary school classroom in Omaha than there are people on earth looking for potential threats from space.
Scientists calculate how often asteroids collide with the earth and say that we're overdue for a hit. The reason is that there’s a main asteroid belt between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars where these huge rocks, some the size of a dwarf planet, collide, creating smaller asteroids and meteors that enter the space of the inner planets. These rocks spawned by the asteroid belt are as old as the beginning of the big bang
We have few options if we spot a NEO or near earth object on a collision course with earth. Blowing it up with a hydrogen bomb is not one of those options. It'd only make things worse.
The best option we have is to somehow alter the path of the asteroid to one that doesn't threaten our existence. Scientists believe the way to do that is to launch a mission to the asteroid so we can land on it and set up solar sails. Those sails will catch solar winds, changing the asteroids path so that it won't collide with earth.
The problem is that while this option looks good on paper nothing is being done to make it happen. There are no plans for a rocket, or solar sails, or a crew to land on a potentially dangerous object and prevent it from colliding with earth.
We can’t speculate on how much advance warning we would have in order to react and launch a mission, but we do know that someday it's going to happen. The very least we could do is start getting ready to deal with the inevitable.