A U.S.-led group, the Association of Space Explorers, says the international community must develop a coordinated response to the threat of asteroids.

The group, which represents 320 individuals from 34 nations who have flown in space, said the asteroid Apophis is to pass close to the Earth in 2036, with a one in 45,000 chance of a collision. An impact by Apophis would generate the equivalent of a 500-megaton blast and inflict enormous damage, the group said in a report released in September.

Richard Crowther of Britain's Science and Technology Facilities Council and chair of the U.N. Working Group on Near Earth Objects said the report will be discussed by a U.N. action team in February.

"A lot of what's in the report is consistent with what we're suggesting anyway, there needs to be effective scientific co-ordination, enough observatory time and people looking in the right place at the right time," he told the BBC.