NASA Reveals New Plans For Detecting and Avoiding Possible Asteroid Impacts
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. Over the next 10 years, NASA and other U.S. agencies like FEMA and NOAA are hoping to get a more solid strategy together. Assuming nothing hits us before then, of course.
It's worth stating that this is far from NASA's first attempt at dealing with potential asteroid strikes, and has plenty of programs and offices like their Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at their Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. But this is a big effort to work together with other agencies with the U.S. government to clean up the process.
Currently, no known near-Earth objects pose significant risks of impact, but we're preparing for potential future risks. Take a look at the newly released multiagency report that outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared: https://t.co/t45rzUmfD6 pic.twitter.com/jjWWvQersN— NASA (@NASA) June 20, 2018
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 international cooperation on potentially Earth-shattering NEO impacts, and establish new emergency procedures in the event of an impending NEO strike.
A lot of that sounds vague, and most of it just involves pooling together asteroid-tracking resources we've already developed. But beyond this, there are some plans to actually destroy asteroids in new ways, which include using robots to take down an NEO heading this way - unlike most science fiction movies, there are no plans to send a crack team of astronauts to blow up the meteor themselves.
According to NASA's planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson, who said the following during a teleconference that accompanied the new plan:
Again, there's no current danger to the people of Earth (at least in regards to asteroid strikes), but NASA projects like NEOWISE have picked up over 800 Near-Earth Objects flying uncomfortable close to our planet, and even the smaller ones could do some real damage.
So if Earth's plan for stopping an asteroid could use some tuning up, there's no better time than the present, is what we're saying.