Here's the big plan to protect the planet from 'near-Earth objects'

23 June, 2018, 11:49 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • This image taken in 2015 shows Earth as seen by NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, aboard NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft. Credits NASA

Wednesday, NASA and the White House unveiled a "preparedness strategy and action plan" outlining five ways government agencies must keep them away: enhance detection and tracking, improve modeling and prediction, develop technologies for deflection, increase worldwide cooperation, and strengthen impact emergency procedures. But one could sneak up on us, and that's why the government wants a better plan. Johnson added that the plan will help NASA "step up our efforts to demonstrate possible asteroid deflection and other mitigation techniques, and to better formalize across the USA government the processes and protocols for dissemination of the best information available so that timely decisions can be made".

Thanks to the steady stream of new asteroid discoveries that rolls out of NASA and other skywatching groups around the world you might think that any object that threatens Earth will be spotted well in advance.

The National Science and Technology Council released a report Wednesday calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection.

"The nation already has significant scientific, technical and operation capabilities that are relevant to asteroid impact prevention", said Johnson. It will also develop technologies for NEO deflection and disruption missions, increase worldwide cooperation on NEO preparation, as well as establish NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocol, the statement said.

Scientists hope to learn more about asteroids from a pair of missions now under way. NASA had a program called the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) they planned on launching in 2021, but Trump scrapped the plan in 2017. 4.


The focus of the fourth goal outlined in the document is to increase worldwide cooperation to better prepare the rest of the world for the possibility of an asteroid strike - under the leadership of the United States. "This kind of cooperation is really important", said Aaron Miles, a senior policy adviser with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Last but not least, NASA points out that NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols need to be established. As with any other natural disaster in the U.S., FEMA would provide emergency responders and help with the recovery process.

NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) regularly maps and publishes orbits of all detected NEOs for everyone to see and understand that there is a potential risk of deep impact. That's apparently what happened in 2013 when an asteroid about 66 feet (20 meters) in size suddenly appeared and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging thousands of buildings and causing widespread injuries.

According to a release put out by NASA, there are no known NEOs that pose any significant risk to Earth as of now, but it is an initiative that is key in addressing future risks.

The new plan will serve to "greatly increase our nation's readiness and work with global partners to effectively respond should a new potential asteroid impact be detected", he pointed out.

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