“We can’t do anything about volcanoes, and tsunamis, and earthquakes but we can fix this one.”
One way in which we could stop an asteroid from hitting is by redirecting it from an Earth-bound trajectory.
An asteroid is believed to have pushed the planet to the brink of extinction an estimated 66 million years ago but humanity has avoided a major impact in more recent history.
The US space agency NASA estimates a car-sized rock strikes the planet roughly once a year.
Larger and heavier asteroids hit less frequently and life-ending impacts only occur on a scale of many millions of years.
Because of these timeframes, Mr Tate argued the real danger comes from the smaller and seemingly, inconsequential impactors.
He said: “We’re sitting ducks for the smaller objects. At one kilometre or bigger, we probably catalogued about 96 percent. None of which are due to hit in the next 100 years.