US stepping up Earth’s protection from asteroids, comets

US stepping up Earth’s protection from asteroids, comets

"The document identifies actions to enhance the federal government's coordination and preparedness posture during the next 10 years to address potential hazard posed by NEOs", NASA officials stated in a news release announcing today's teleconference.

The plan is called the "National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan" and will focus on how the USA government will handle objects from space that approach Earth.

Nasa's planetary defence officer, Lindley Johnson, said scientists have found 95 per cent of all these near-Earth objects measuring 1km or bigger.

In addition to enhancing NEO detection, tracking and characterizing capabilities and improving modeling prediction, the plan also aims to develop technologies for deflecting NEOs, increasing worldwide cooperation and establishing new NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.

The comet is thought to come from the Jupiter-family, NASA said. In the first, NASA is directed to lead a new effort to enhance the nation's ability to detect, track and characterize near-Earth asteroids, in order to "reduce current levels of uncertainty and aid in more accurate modeling and more effective decision-making", the document states. Development of emergency procedures and protocols in the event of an asteroid strike.

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This composite image shows the comparative sizes of eight asteroids. NASA had plans to attempt this with the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) in 2021, but the Trump administration scrapped that mission in 2017. "This kind of cooperation is really important", said Aaron Miles, a senior policy advisor with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

When asked where the funding for this would come from, Miles said that the plan comes largely from existing resources in the USA government, but it's about utilizing those resources and monies in a smarter and more efficient way.

Though our planet is in no immediate danger, NASA has a contingency plan and is prepared to deal with the eventuality that a near-Earth object (NEO) might come too close to us and crash on Earth's surface. The improvement of modeling, prediction and information integration on asteroids that will include the site of the impact, the extent of the damage, and the options for preventing or mitigating the strike. The plan, which NASA says will be a decade-long effort to ensure that scientists have the right approach to dealing with threats from space.

That is apparently what happened in 2013 when an asteroid about 20 metres (66ft) in size suddenly appeared and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging thousands of buildings and causing widespread injuries.

"Implementing the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan will greatly increase our nation's readiness and work with global partners to respond effectively, should a new potential asteroid impact be detected", Johnson added.

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