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White House Finally Reveals Official Plan Versus Killer Asteroids

Jan 09, 2017 04:39 AM EST
We Finally Have an Official Plan Versus Killer Asteroids
We finally have a final strategy to deal with deadly asteroids. Unlike what we've seen in Bruce Willis' famous film, and other hypothetical scenarios, this is official.
(Photo : Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

We finally have a final strategy to deal with deadly asteroids. Unlike what we've seen in Bruce Willis' famous film and other hypothetical scenarios, this is official.

According to Science Alert, it can be considered that scientists have repeatedly expressed concern on how unprepared we are for a meteor strike. Now, we'll finally be able to try to do something about a killer asteroid on a collision course to Earth.

The United States has a detailed plan, and it's a big one. According to its released document, it's officially called the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy. It was developed by the Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects, or the DAMIEN, and was published last month by the White House Office of Science and Technology policy.

The document aims to "improve" the nation's preparedness and address the hazard of a near-Earth object going straight for the planet. The plan aims to enhance the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities they are currently lacking.

Considering that there was no warning before the 17-meter meteor struck Cheylabinsk in 2013 that damaged 1,000 people, or the 1-kilometer-wide object approaching the planet a few weeks ago, it's helpful to have a plan in store.

According to Science Alert, NEOs are objects such as asteroids or comets that have orbits that bring them near or into the Earth's orbit. They can be a few meters in size or up to kilometers in width. One of them was thought to have killed dinosaurs not too long ago.

The Planetary Society estimates that we have only discovered 60 percent of the NEOs that are larger than 1.5 kilometers, even though we are finding out five new asteroids almost every night. The new strategy is going to try to detect NEOs as early as possible, and then forming a response. The goals in order to achieve this is divided into seven goals.

First is to enhance NEO detection, tracking and characterization. This can be done using the Minor Planet centre and using NASA's new early warning system Scout. Second is to develop methods for NEO deflection and disruption, similar to Bruce Willis's movie, and improve modelling, predictions and information integration.

Fourth and fifth is to develop emergency procedures for potential impact, and establish NEO impact response and recovery. Sixth is to leverage and support international cooperation, and lastly to establish coordination and communications protocol.

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