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NASA Teams Up With FEMA to Ward Off Asteroids That Might Hit Earth

Nov 06, 2016 05:39 AM EST
NASA and FEMA To Conduct Asteroid Impact Response Exercises

(Photo : Mario Tama)

How would you feel if you suddenly found a massive asteroid on its way to collide with Earth?

This was the main topic of discussion on Oct. 25 between NASA and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in El Segundo, California, as reported by the website of NASA. Both NASA and FEMA have now partnered to build strategies that will safeguard us in such a calamity. It's important to exercise these types of low-probability but high-impact disaster scenarios, said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator, in a report released on Friday.

With the assistance of both space-based and terrestrial network, NASA is keeping a close watch on the population of the local asteroids, which researchers estimate is close to 10,000. At least 10 percent of the near-Earth objects or NEOs known so far have a diameter of 3,300 feet each and can cause massive global devastation.

The exercise consisted of a fictitious asteroid measuring between 300 and 800 feet in length and having approximately a 2 percent chance of impacting the earth on Sept. 20, 2020. With the progress of the simulation, the trajectory of the asteroid shifted, eventually increasing the chance of impact by 65 percent and later to 100 percent by May 2017.

Few months down the line, the teams could point out the impact zone in Southern California. It's not a question of if it happens but when, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at Science Mission Directorate of NASA. He added that the team now has the resources and ability to react to such an impact through strong strategies like observation, prediction, response planning, and alleviating on a consistent basis.

NASA supplies expert input to FEMA on the hazards of asteroid impact via the Planetary Defense Coordination Office. The teams will carry on conducting exercises on asteroid impact and include additional representatives both from local and state agencies.

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