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Big asteroids hit Earth far more than we're told, say astronauts

To, well, celebrate Earth Day, April 22, three former astronauts will claim they have evidence that remote parts of the Earth have endured 3 to 10 times more large-scale asteroid strikes than has been revealed.

Coming to a city near you? Movieclips/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Are asteroids a little passé?

We're always told they're flying around us and over us. It seems a touch more rare that they smash into, say, Manhattan, or Peoria, Ill.

Still, we make movies and video games about it, as if it could happen anytime.

Now along come three former astronauts to offer: "Hey, this could happen anytime."

As part of a celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22, Ed Lu, Tom Jones, and Bill Anders, all veterans of space travel, are to give a presentation to scare us out of our complacent wits.

As Phys.org reports, the B612 Foundation will present data from a nuclear weapons warning network that shows -- at least to members of the group -- that large asteroids strike the Earth 3 to 10 times more than publicly revealed.

A quote released to entice people to the presentation -- to be held in Seattle -- is less than reassuring: "The only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid is blind luck."

Personally, I've been rather fond of blind luck over the years.

However, the foundation, led by Lu, offered this in an advance press release: "This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare -- but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought."

I confess that this information confuses me.

It would suggest that big, lumbering asteroids have hit us twice a year since 2001. This creates far more fear than a warning issued last year that said we should expect an asteroid strike every decade or two.

Naturally, Lu and his foundation are trying to raise money to build a telescope called the Sentinel, which might offer better warnings of asteroids about to hit us.

Scaring people isn't a bad way to raise money. But surely it's better to make yet another blockbuster movie starring a debonair former astronaut -- played by George Clooney or Sandra Bullock.

"Grave Situation," coming to a movie theater near you.