Updated: Friday, 15 Oct 2010, 10:10 AM MDT
Published : Thursday, 14 Oct 2010, 10:53 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - For years, astronomers have been on the lookout for large asteroids on a collision course with Earth. Now, a scientist at Sandia National Labs is warning about the danger of smaller asteroids that could burst in the atmosphere with the power of a nuclear explosion.
Mark Boslough says more money, attention, and telescopes need to be focused on finding small asteroids.
Boslough bases his finding, partly, on a small asteroid around 100 feet in diameter that burst over the remote Tunguska region in Russia back in 1908. It left 700 square miles looking like a wasteland.
"This can happen at anytime," Boslough said. "There are millions of objects about the size of the Tunguska object."
He says most small asteroids are only detected when they are close to Earth, too late to try to deflect. However, with better searching, Boslough believes astronomers could potentially find something like a small asteroid weeks before an impact.
That would give any area in line of the impact, enough time to evacuate.
The probability of a small asteroid hitting is one in a thousand years. But, Boslough says it's best to be prepared.