Many have wondered what can be done to help protect Earth from the potential danger of a large-scale killer asteroid headed straight toward us.
In recent years, NASA has developed its own 5-step plan to help be ready for a possible collision…and beyond this specific plan, scientists are already working on testing various methods of preventing an impact event.
At the very first stage of the plan, you have the initial identification of an asteroid that is on a collision course toward Earth. Granted, this asteroid must also be of a certain size or larger to present a significant danger to the planet. Smaller objects tend to break up upon entering the atmosphere and burn up on their way down.
- Step 1 – A text message goes out to a group of 12 scientists or less.
A small group of scientists skilled in various studies related to asteroids and defenses against them will be notified of the danger and ordered to assemble as this is their top priority.
- Step 2 – The group of scientists immediately work on detailed tracking of the asteroid’s path toward earth, using as many resources as they can to get the most data.
Currently, there are scientists and laboratories who spend all day tracking near-earth objects and those with the potential to become near-earth objects. If one of these is large enough and identified to become a hazard, this procedure takes place and the object is then the main focus of the program.
- Step 3 – Scientists calculate and predict the exact size of the object, place, and time of impact with Earth.
Once the size and location of the impact have been determined, NASA works with FEMA to confirm the danger and possible impact radius.
- Step 4 – NASA & FEMA confirm an impact is likely inevitable.
Jointly, they try to determine what the fallout from impact would be and FEMA then gets to work preparing for it.
- Step 5 – The two agencies then make a public announcement about the suspected impact.
At this point that the plan has been built and impact confirmed, both agencies make a public statement to advise the American people of the projected disaster.
Now, an impact only will occur after all efforts to deflect, divert, and destroy the asteroid have been exhausted – which, based on many recent scientific programs, seems likely to succeed.
Currently, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has begun working on a mission called DART. This mission will send a craft to the asteroid called Didymos in 2021 and perform a real-life test run of the capabilities of redirecting an asteroid that is headed for Earth.
The biggest advantage humans can have against asteroid collisions with Earth is knowing far enough in advance that one is going to strike. It is projected if we know a decade or more ahead of time, we will be able to divert the asteroid enough to avoid a collision…but that all depends on if we can detect it.
Watch the full video about NASA’s DART mission below.