US stepping up Earth's protection from asteroids, comets

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 22, 2018

NASA is participating, along with federal emergency and White House officials.

"The nation already has significant scientific, technical and operational capabilities that are relevant to asteroid impact prevention", said Lindley Johnson, NASA's planetary defence officer, at NASA Headquarters, Washington.

NASA has just outlined a basic plan of action in case a comet or asteroid is spotted coming toward Earth with the possibility of it colliding with the planet.

The plan itself has five major points that NASA wants to work on over the next decade: to enhance NEO detection and tracking, improve NEO modeling and movement prediction, create better techniques for deflecting or destroying NEOs, improve global cooperation on potentially Earth-shattering NEO impacts, and establish new emergency procedures in the event of an impending NEO strike.

NASA and scientists around the world regularly track asteroids in space to seek out any space rocks that could one day endanger the Earth. By completing this action plan, the agency along with its governmental partners will start to evaluate and actually begin development of various approaches, HAMMER, or otherwise, including the necessary technologies to defend Earth from a significant asteroid or comet collision, seeing as how there could be a Planet Nine out there firing comets this way.

The full proposal is a 20 page document entitled "The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan", and mostly deals with addressing the fact that Earth as a whole doesn't have a firm, singular plan in the event of a legitimate Near-Earth Object (NEO) strike. But such notice would give time to evacuate the area it might hit.

An asteroid double or even triple that size exploded over Tunguska, Russia, in 1908, levelling 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) of forest.

According to the report, casualties could be in the millions if a similar event struck NY. These changes involve a host of government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and are meant to happen over the next 10 years, according to the document.

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.

Most of the extra work can be done with existing funds, said Aaron Miles of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"This is more about figuring out how to use those resources smartly", he said.

Scientists hope to learn a lot more about asteroids from a pair of missions now underway. Missions like this lasting months or years make it hard if not impossible for humans, given current technology, he noted.

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