NASA Wants Your Ideas for Stopping an Asteroid: Help the Earth NOT Be Destroyed
It turns out that about the time Bruce Willis and his crew of oil-field workers were on a fictional asteroid trying to prevent it from destroying the world in the movie Armageddon, the folks over at NASA were actually starting up a program to try and spot incoming asteroids the way that guy on the Titanic was supposed to be looking for icebergs (though maybe that's not the greatest analogy).
Photo from Wikipedia Help NASA save the world, so Bruce Willis doesn't have to
Anyway, in 1998, the same year Armageddon came out, NASA set up the Near Earth Object Observation Program (a.k.a. NEOO) to try and make sure that an asteroid the size of Texas would be spotted long before it actually destroyed the planet or required Hollywood movie science to make things turn out okay.
The object seemingly being to prevent the real President of the United States and somebody high-up and fancy at NASA, played by Billy Bob Thornton in the movie, from having a conversation like this:
President: "We didn't see this thing coming?"
NASA-guy-played-by-Thornton-in-the-movie: "Well, our object collision budget's a million dollars. That allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg'n your pardon, sir, but it's a big-ass sky."
So that was all awhile back.
Now, despite a marked lack of enthusiasm from Congress - they'd rather see NASA folks focused on another trip to the moon and a first manned mission to Mars than playing with asteroids -- the space program is working on their asteroid project, which includes an "asteroid retrieval program" along with exploring ways to stop an asteroid if one big enough to do movie-level damage actually starts on a collision course with Earth.