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NASA, FEMA Test Asteroid Emergency Response -- What to Do In an Actual Asteroid Impact?

Nov 09, 2016 04:50 AM EST
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So what if an asteroid hits Earth? That is the question thrown by some as NASA improves it asteroid detection system. Is there a technology available and designed to counteract the repercussions of an asteroid impact?

In a successful show of might, an orchestrated exercise was performed by five U.S. government agencies to develop a contingency plan for incoming asteroids. The agencies converged in California to focus on the threat asteroids pose to the planet.

The exercise consists of an imminent threat, as an asteroid is about to hit the Earth in 2020. The supposed asteroid will hit a densely populated area, and the team members will have to come up with a contingency plan in order to complete the exercise.

NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used this 'hypothetical' asteroid impact to prepare an effective contingency plan. The plan was to prepare residents and minimize panic attacks and chaotic scenarios. The goal is to minimize losses as well.

"It's not a matter of if, but when, we will deal with such a situation," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's new associate administrator, said in a statement. "But unlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation," Zurbuchen added.

The most efficient way to prepare is to knock off the asteroid from its current path towards the planet. But the old technology will take months even years to predict the path so changing an asteroid's course will not be feasible. But with today's advancements in path prediction, experts say that calculation of the asteroid's path even the population displacement and infrastructure damage can be done faster and that evacuation measures might also be performed right in time.

The increase in funding also helped in the development of technologies focused on monitoring potential asteroid impacts. Although NASA can largely contribute to the monitoring of asteroid paths, some experts argue that if in case an asteroid hits the Earth it wouldn't be NASA's sole responsibility as it has already passed the monitoring and detection stage.

So the question remains, is the government prepared if an actual and devastating asteroid impact occurs? If it happens, it is, after all, a global concern, according to a report by CS Monitor.

 

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