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Asteroid impact The solar system is filled with a barrage of comets and asteroids Some of these cross the paths of the other planets as well as the earths The earth travels around in a swarm of projectiles Comets and asteroids can and do strike the surface of the earth Evidence from spacecraft exploring the outer planets and their satellites reveal the presence of craters scaring their surfaces These help to support the idea that all the planets are under constant attack by these flying projectiles It was nearly sixty years ago that the first earth-crossing asteroid was discovered Improvements in telescopes and technology have increased our knowledge about cosmic projectiles Since then dozens of near-Earth asteroids and short period comets are discovered each year The exact nature of the role of asteroids is still under debate Few scientists can deny the increasingly important role that asteroids and comets have played in the formation of the earth and life itself on this planet The scientific community was not paying attention to this threat until 1980 Thats when Luis Alvarez and others proposed that such an impact and the global pall of dust resulted in the mass extinction of life forms on earth ending the age of dinosaurs Alvarez and others 1980 Widespread public interest was aroused as additional papers and discussions via scientific literature followed In 1981 NASA organized a workshop Collision of Asteroids and Comets with the Earth Physical and human Consequences at Snowmass Colorado July 13-16 1981 In response to the close passage of asteroid 1989fcthe American Institute of aeronautics and astronautics AIAA 1990 recommended studies to increase the detection rate of near-Earth asteroids and how to prevent such objects striking the Earth The AIAA brought these recommendations to the attention of the House Committee of Science Space and Technology leading to the Congressional mandate for this workshop included in the NASA 1990 Authorization Bill In conjunction with these political developments
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