Fighting disease and building libraries are all well and good, but sometimes the rich donate to more eclectic causes.
Extinction by asteroid probably isn't something that keeps most of us up at night. But it does at the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit set up by several former Silicon Valley execs to track and deflect asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
The group is in the process of raising $200 million to build a telescope that will orbit the sun somewhere near Venus, scanning the solar system for Earth-bound asteroids.
If one is spotted, B612 will try to prevent an impact with our planet. But blowing it up Bruce Willis-style isn't a good idea, said Diane Murphy, a spokeswoman for the organization, as that could simply create smaller -- but still problematic -- asteroids. Instead, the group plans to tug it off course using a spacecraft that would fly alongside the rock and exert gravitational pull.
"It's the first deep space mission for the private sector," said Murphy.