NASA Reveals New Plans For Detecting and Avoiding Possible Asteroid Impacts

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 - 6:20PM
Space
NASA
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 - 6:20PM
NASA Reveals New Plans For Detecting and Avoiding Possible Asteroid Impacts
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In a big announcement that includes plenty of assurances that we're not currently in danger of an asteroid impact, NASA has a new plan for dealing with 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.




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:

Opening quote
"This plan is an outline not only to enhance the hunt for hazardous asteroids, but also to better predict their chances of being an impact threat well into the future and the potential effects that it could have on Earth... [This will] step up our efforts to demonstrate possible asteroid deflection and other mitigation techniques, and to better formalize across the U.S. government the processes and protocols for dissemination of the best information available so that timely decisions can be made."
Closing quote


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.

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