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SF Fundraising Begins To Build Warning System For Asteroid Threats

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A meteor (L) from the Geminids meteor shower enters the Earth's atmosphere. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

A meteor (L) from the Geminids meteor shower enters the Earth’s atmosphere. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

JEFFREY%20SCHAUB Jeffrey Schaub
Jeffrey Schaub is a Bay Area broadcast news veteran. From 1990 to 201...
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – A group of former NASA astronauts and scientists has announced plans to launch a space telescope capable of spotting and tracking space rocks capable of wiping out a city or continent.

Sentinel, a massive infrared space telescope to be privately financed by the B612 Foundation, would hover in space anywhere from 30 million to 100 million miles from Earth looking for large asteroids on a trajectory for home.

“The Earth orbits the sun along with about a million rocks larger than the one that hit Tunguska about a hundred years ago,” said CEO Ed Lu. “That took out an area about the size of the San Francisco Bay Area and it was about the size of a school bus.”

KCBS’ Jeffrey Schaub Reports:

Lu said the satellite would give scientists time to sound an early warning of danger.

“If we know they are, we could actually go out and move them in space so they won’t hit the Earth,” he said.

Saving the entire planet is not cheap. The project could cost several hundred million dollars.

Fundraising kicked off Thursday at the Morrison Planetarium of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

The satellite could also bring mankind closer to other planets. NASA would like to land a spaceship on an asteroid as part of a mission to Mars.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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