Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Preparing for asteroids from above

Preparing for asteroids from above

Johnson added that the plan will help NASA "step up our efforts to demonstrate possible asteroid deflection and other mitigation techniques, and to better formalize across the US government the processes and protocols for dissemination of the best information available so that timely decisions can be made". It will also develop technologies for NEO deflection and disruption missions, increase worldwide cooperation on NEO preparation, as well as establish NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocol, the statement said.

Ground telescopes are good at picking up asteroids zooming into the inner solar system and approaching from the night side of Earth, Mr Johnson said.

Five major objectives are detailed in the new plan.

Scientists hope to learn more about asteroids from a pair of missions now under way.

The report mentions NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs.

For now, scientists know of no asteroids or comets heading our way, but one could sneak up on us, so Washington wants a better plan. This involves developing technologies for "rapid-response NEO reconnaissance missions", in which a spacecraft could launch toward an Earth-bound asteroid and somehow change the space rock's course so that it no longer posed a threat. The webcam footage of the asteroid captured in a rural area of Johannesburg showed that the asteroid was a glowing orb and lighted up the sky in a huge flash.

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However, ARM was not the only asteroid-deflecting mission NASA had up its sleeve.

All that involves current technology, Mr Johnson said. Improvement of global cooperation in dealing with NEOs through increased cooperation on observation infrastructure and modeling.

The Planetary Defense team are given the task of tracking and warning about asteroids which can be a threat to planet Earth. But this is a big effort to work together with other agencies with the USA government to clean up the process.

NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) regularly maps and publishes orbits of all detected NEOs for everyone to see and understand that there is a potential risk of deep impact. The asteroid was discovered on Saturday by researchers who calculated its trajectory and informed that it will hit earth. 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 Chelyabinsk meteor that fell in Russian Federation in 2013, for example, injured more than 1,500 people. NASA is starting to look for more of those smaller asteroids, now that most of the larger ones have already been cataloged.

It's a common occurrence for asteroids to zip past Earth, space experts say, and 2017 YE5 just happens to be bigger than most others. "Effective emergency-response procedures can save lives, and unlike most natural disasters, asteroid impacts are preventable", he added.

Titled "The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan", the 20-page document presented today outlines five strategic goals meant to increase our understanding of NEOs and to make sure we are prepared in the event of an emergency situation.

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