Asteroids, which usually sit in the inner solar system, tend to orbit the Sun, but do not resemble the shape of a planet. There are millions of these rock formations flying around space and their collisions – known as impact events – have played a significant role in shaping many planets. Throughout history, hundreds have struck Earth, causing death, injury and property damage, though nothing more significant.
Some conspiracy theorists believe NASA is involved in a cover-up regarding a catastrophic event that could wipe out the human race.
However, Dr Thaller has shut down those claims.
She revealed there is no way the space agency would be able to hide such an occurrence.
She told BigThink: “If scientists actually knew there was a catastrophic asteroid heading towards Earth, would we tell you?
“The answer is yes.
“We study the skies every night looking for objects that might be on a collision course towards Earth.
“If we find anything that looks risky, we would inform lots of people.
“The other thing is the sky is available to everyone on Earth, no one governs it and there are telescopes all over the place.
“There is no way anyone could hide the fact that a huge asteroid was on its way.”
Dr Thaller is an astronomer who studies binary stars and their life cycle.
She went to college at Harvard University, completing a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.
The 49-year-old then started working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Spitzer Space Telescope.
After a hugely successful mission, she moved on to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre (GSFC), in the Washington D.C. area.