Scared of the end of the world? Well, NASA has a plan in case an asteroid hurtling through space risks destroying Earth.
According to NASA, objects capable of threatening civilisation hit Earth once every few million years.
The possibility of that happening in your lifetime is unlikely, but not impossible.
The US space agency has recently unveiled an 18-page document, the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” to deal with this.
NASA outlined five key steps to reduce risks of catastrophic collisions due to incoming asteroids.
1. Improved Asteroid Tracking
NASA utilises observatories around the world to identify deadly asteroids. However, there are times they are caught just hours before impact.
To “identify opportunities in existing and planned telescope programs to improve detection and tracking, by enhancing the volume and quality of current data streams” is NASA’s first aim.
Thus, logically, asteroid awareness equals lowered chances of total annihilation.
2. Calculating Earth Collisions
NASA also aims to improve their calculations on possible collisions with Earth to accurately predict future cataclysms.
They propose to work with other agencies to improve “modelling, prediction and information integration” which sounds boring, but could potentially save us all.
3. Asteroid deflection route
This will involve developing new technology to enable “rapid-response NEO [near-Earth objects] reconnaissance missions”.
To send spacecraft towards asteroids and somehow force them to change route. Thus, saving the planet.
There’s already a planned mission – called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test – scheduled for 2021 to do exactly this.
Target practice will commence in 2022, with the asteroid system Didymos.
4. The Power of Collaboration
Having more eyes can only be good when it comes to spotting falling rocks of death.
“It’s a global hazard that we all face together, and the best way to approach and address that hazard is cooperatively,” said Aaron Miles, who works on science policy at the White House.
They wish to develop an international response strategy for incoming asteroids, which would involve sharing data, and smashing space rocks together.
5. Creating a step-by-step plan
This entails NASA and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) improving their systems to effectively notify those affected and installing natural disaster alerts for the public to avoid worldwide panic.
The good news is that it is very unlikely we will be smashed up by an asteroid soon.
“NASA and its partners have identified more than 95 percent of all asteroids that are large enough to cause a global catastrophe, and none of those found poses a threat within the century,” said Miles.
“Effective emergency-response procedures can save lives, and unlike most natural disasters, asteroid impacts are preventable.”
Do you think we’re doomed if an apocalyptic asteroid takes aim at Earth, or can NASA save the day? Let us know in the comments!