NASA has created a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to protect us from pesky, world-ending asteroid impacts - only 18 years too late to save Bruce Willis.
Space is terrifying. If it’s not the unimaginably huge spheres of burning plasmatic horror trapping you and melting you down to infernal fuel, or the super-dense singularities of collapsed gravity devouring you like an M&M, you’re sure to be done in by the unknowably vast amount of junk just flying around - big, huge asteroids that could smush you and your puny spaceship-of-the-imagination flat. Even the little tiny bits of rock have had about one bazillion years zipping around the galaxy, speeding up to the point that even the slightest graze would be like getting shot with a gun. A scary gun in space - good thing we’re here, warm and cosy within our atmosphere, on Earth, where none of the spooky space stuff can get us. That is, except for the 100 tonnes of asteroid and comet bits that hit the Earth every day.
There have been 13,500 Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) detected since NASA started keeping track in 1998, and now they’ve set up a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to respond to nefarious NEOs when they come knocking. The office will coordinate the response of NASA and other federal American agencies in the event that an object on a collision course is detected and Bruce Willis or Aerosmith aren’t available. The programme's long-term goal is to come up with technology that would help us defend ourselves by either deflecting or redirecting any space junk that looks at us the wrong way. They already have plans to test out techniques - seeing if putting an asteroid in orbit around the moon is a viable method of redirection, or teaming up with the European Space Agency to smash a spaceship into the interstellar litter to see if it gets the hint to GTFO.
Most of these NEOs get burned up in the atmosphere, our built-in security system. But sometimes, when a big one (larger than 50 metres) shows up, it can actually cause some damage and seriously scare the crap out of people. Should an NEO come in at the right angle or with sufficient mass, it could cause catastrophic, nuke-like damage. Just look at what happened to the dinosaurs! It's too bad they didn’t have a space program.