The US government has taken a further step in preparing to prevent asteroids from hitting the planet. This is how an 18-page report came to existence: “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan.”
The report was released this month by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It covers the plan of next ten years’ actions in case of asteroids coming too close to Earth. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the White House, and officials from NASA discussed this report in a press teleconference.
Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defence Officer for NASA, explained that in this case, astronauts would not be involved like we usually see in movies:
“It makes a good movie, but we do not see in our studies any technique that would require the involvement of astronauts.”
He added that most of the job would be performed by robotic spacecraft.
Five Main Objectives in the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan”
1. Detection, tracking, and cataloging of near-Earth asteroids, which will be reinforced. They will “identify opportunities in existing and planned telescope programs to improve detection and tracking by enhancing the volume and quality of current data streams.”
2. Better communication between agencies so that “modeling, prediction and information integration” can be improved in case of an impact and lowering the reaction time to a situation like that.
3. Finding out a way to deflect asteroids that threaten the Earth. NASA plans to develop a spacecraft that could change an asteroid’s course – called “rapid-response NEO (near-Earth object) reconnaissance missions.” They plan to begin testing in 2021 an Asteroid Redirect Mission, but the Trump administration scrapped it last year. There is also a Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) which will launch in 2021 towards the asteroid system Didymos in 2022. Johnson explained that it would be the “first technology demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to deflect an asteroid.”
4. International cooperation must improve, and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is working with the United Nations, looking for ways to create global networks of information and cooperation. The UN has an International Asteroid Warning Network, which is a group of observatories and astronomers that track asteroids from different parts of the world to help share data and observations.
5. Preparing for impact is the last goal in the report that if followed by a plan in case an asteroid impacts the Earth. The report outlines that they need to “strengthen and routinely exercise NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere