Live-Tweeting the End of the World: International Space Agencies Team Up to Practice For an Asteroid Striking Earth
The best part of this? The ESA is tweeting out bits and pieces of the scenario – that an asteroid named 2019PDC has been spotted and calculated to have a 1 in 100 chance of striking Earth – as if it were happening in real time. The agency has wisely hashtagged the relevant tweets with #FICTIONALEVENT to avoid any War of the Worlds scenarios.
International news reports confirm: An #asteroid was discovered on 26 March 2019, and named #2019PDC by the @IAU_org's Minor Planet Center located in Cambridge, Mass, USA #FICTIONALEVENT #PlanetaryDefense (Image credit Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics CC-SA3.0) pic.twitter.com/03gV3Q4XNT— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 26, 2019
Very little is known about the asteroid's physical properties. From its brightness, experts determine that its size could be anywhere from 100-300 meters - about 5-15x bigger than the 2013 #Chelyabinsk impactor #FICTIONALEVENT #PlanetaryDefense pic.twitter.com/xWTVbSPMZn— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 26, 2019
As astronomers continued to track #2019PDC, the chance of impact continued to rise. By 29 April 2019 (the first day of the #PlanetaryDefense Conference), the probability of impact had risen to 1 in 100! ? ? #FICTIONALEVENT #PlanetaryDefense— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 26, 2019
Find out how this dramatic & risky situation will turn out LIVE from this year's #PlanetaryDefense Conference, starting Monday, 29.04. During the week, we'll post live updates the moment the experts are informed. What will they decide? #FICTIONALEVENT #ItHappenedBefore pic.twitter.com/3y7WTXlOyK— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 26, 2019
The tabletop exercise will tale place at the Planetary Defense Conference in Washington D.C. and NASA officials seem confident that it will prove fruitful."These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know,"NASA's Planetary Defense Officer said Lindley Johnson. "This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments."
On the tactics side of anti-asteroid defense, NASA recently granted a $69M contract to SpaceX to assist in its DART program. The agency hopes to test the system in June, 2021.