The 2013 TIME 100

TIME presents its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, from artists and leaders to pioneers, titans and icons


Don Yeomans

Asteroid hunter

By Rusty Schweickart

April 18, 2013

Don Yeomans is one of the reasons we can all sleep a little better at night. For over a decade, Don and I have been hunting for incoming asteroids that come too close to Earth, with Don leading the NASA effort to find and track them, while I focus via the B612 Foundation – named for the asteroid home of the Little Prince – on how to deflect them if necessary.

Every night, telescopes make thousands of asteroid observations which go to Don’s premier team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where that data is converted into information about the trajectory of the rocks years or even decades into the future.

One day, without question, it will be Don and his team who issue a warning to the world that it’s time to launch a deflection campaign to prevent an incalculable disaster. We know how things worked out for the dinosaurs; it takes a levelheaded leader like Don to spare us their fate.

Schweickart, founder of the B612 Foundation, flew aboard the Apollo 9 mission

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