LONDON (AP) _ Scientists studying the threat of asteroids crashing into Earth urged the British government on Monday to seek international partners to fund a powerful new telescope to be stationed in the southern hemisphere.

A committee set up earlier this year by Science Minister Lord Sainsbury also said governments should launch joint studies to assess how to destroy an object on a collision course with the planet.

Objects hitting Earth have caused devastating damage. One impact off the coast of Mexico 65 million years ago is thought by some to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The report estimated that a wide object crashes into our planet every 10,000 years with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb.

``We put a lot of money into astronomy and I think it's sensible to put just a little bit in to making certain that we know if there is a danger of an object hitting our very fragile planet,'' Lord Sainsbury said.

The committee is chaired by Dr. Harry Atkinson, formerly of the Science and Engineering Research Council and a past chairman of the European Space Agency's council.