The former administrator of NASA offered a very brief and chilling response when asked about the possibility of a sudden asteroid impact on Earth. Based on the official’s response, it seems Earth’s chance of surviving such an impact is very slim.

Before Jim Bridenstine took over NASA, the space agency’s administrator was Charles Bolden. Prior to becoming an administrator, Bolden served as an astronaut for NASA. One of his most notable missions was the STS-31 in 1990. For the mission, he piloted the Discovery shuttle to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.

During his time as administrator, Bolden was invited to attend a congressional hearing to discuss NASA and the U.S. space activities. Aside from these, Bolden also discussed the various threats from space, such as the possibility of Earth getting hit again by an asteroid as big as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago

During the hearing, former Representative Bill Posey of Florida asked Bolden what would Earth and NASA do if a massive asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth was discovered just three weeks before impact, Express reported.

In this kind of situation, Bolden admitted that the only thing the world can do is to pray.

Although the former NASA official’s answer seemed very unprofessional, it is actually based on the space agency’s ability to deflect asteroids that might hit Earth. According to NASA, one of its main solutions to prevent an asteroid impact is by launching a spacecraft and intentionally crashing it onto the asteroid.

Theoretically, the impact from the spacecraft should nudge the asteroid away from a direct path to Earth. However, NASA noted that this method will only be effective as long as it is carried out ahead of time. If the asteroid crosses a certain threshold in space or if it wasn’t detected soon enough, NASA won’t be able to successfully deflect it.

According to the agency, this method is not a last-ditch effort. NASA needs time to detect the asteroid and launch the mission. Also, the farther the asteroid is, the chances of the space rock getting pushed away from Earth are greater.

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