Experts say that asteroids pose a severe threat to life on Earth and that the US does not have a clear plan to avoid disaster.
Even though NASA claims the chances are one in a millennium, no US agency is specifically liable if space rocks are coming our way.
"Lack" of Planetary Defense
Former Air Force space strategist Peter Garretson, a specialist in planetary defense, told Politico, "No one is entrusted with mitigation." "Congress did enact a statute requiring the White House to name who should be held accountable, but all four following administrations have ignored the request."
"Three million asteroids are flying about us, and we have no freaking idea where they are," Danica Remy, head of the B612 Foundation, told the outlet. According to Remy, the existing study has "barely made a dent" in identifying what's out there, whose charity is developing a database to track near-earth objects.
The problem has reappeared as NASA prepares to launch the world's first mission to see whether it can alter the track of a potentially deadly asteroid. The agency intends to launch a rocket into the astroid Dimorphos at a speed of 16,000 miles per hour.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test will take place after November 24. The asteroid system presents no threat to Earth, according to NASA, and is just being utilized as a testing ground.
"The asteroid that DART is chasing is not a threat to Earth." "This asteroid system provides a suitable testing ground to evaluate if crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an efficient approach to modify its trajectory, should an Earth-threatening asteroid be detected in the future," according to a news statement announcing the test.
All Hands on Deck
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Chris Mattmann told The Washington Post that the agency frequently collaborates with the Space Force and Air Force on potential mitigation strategies. Any imminent impact scenario would likely necessitate a "whole of government effort" response.
As private enterprise pushed into the area, he warned that space concerns would become increasingly prominent in Americans' minds. Billionaire tech entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson. This year, Richard Brandon and others soared into space on their own privately funded craft, with additional civilian-facing trips planned.
"With commercial space[flight]... gaining precedence over the conventional long-term flagship mission over the next decade, space is going to get extremely busy, and space traffic management is going to be a significant concern," Mattmann said.
US National Security
The United States' indecisiveness has national security ramifications as China increases its investment in planetary defense. In November, Chinese scientists issued a study advocating for an "assembled kinetic impactor" to handle the risk, perhaps outpacing the United States on the subject.
On the other hand, some China hawks argue that the planetary defense is irrelevant and that China should be free to kill itself over the issue if it so desires.
The head of the Security Studies Group, Jim Hanson, told The Washington Post, "I don't see a threat from it that is any larger than the ones they now pose." "We all have nuclear weapons." Is there anything more you require?"
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