NASA asteroid observers join in an emergency plan with the White House, FEMA

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is spearheading a 10-year plan to improve the detection of near-Earth asteroids and comets that could crash into Earth and expand research on possible countermeasures to divert If detected early, officials said on Wednesday

The National Strategy and Action Plan for the preparation of nearby objects also calls for greater international cooperation to prepare for possible threats of global impact and work to strengthen procedures and US emergency protocols. UU., Familiarizing the state and local administration staff with the unusual nature of the threat.

"For emergency managers, this is so different that we must first educate them," said Leviticus Lewis, an official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). [19659002] "Everyone in the United States knows what a hurricane curve is, or the error cone, but if we show the impact possibilities for an asteroid, most emergencies will have no idea what the rs will be. that means or how NASA invented this information. "

The strategy and action plan say that its intention is to "inform" the development of policies and that future financing "will be determined through the budget process."

"Fortunately, this type of event destructive is extremely rare, "said Aaron Miles, representing the OSTP. "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 represents a threat in this century, but asteroid impacts do occur. "

One hundred years ago, an estimated object between 130 and 200 feet in diameter exploded over Tunguska, Russia, in 1908, releasing the energy equivalent of up to 10 million tons of TNT and flattening trees in 770 square miles. The devastation of a similar event today would spread throughout the New York metropolitan area.


An asteroid or comet between 130 and 200 feet in diameter exploded over Tunguska, Russia, in 1908, leveling trees in an area of ​​770 square miles. A similar explosion today would wreak havoc throughout the metropolitan area of ​​New York.

National Strategy for Preparation for Near Earth Objects and Plan of Action

In February 2013, a 60-foot-wide meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia releasing the power of 30 atomic bombs damaging buildings below and injuring more than 1,000 people. Current estimates indicate a population of nearly 10 million NEO more than 60 feet wide.

Chelyabinsk clbad events occur every 30 to 40 years, researchers estimate, while impacts by objects with diameters greater than one mile occur once every several hundred thousand years.

But every day, more than 100 tons of debris from comets and asteroids collides with Earth's atmosphere and while the vast majority burns above the surface, objects with diameters greater than 328 feet can survive long enough to hit ground

"The United States can and should continue to prepare for the possibility of a future asteroid threat," said Miles. "Effective emergency response procedures can save lives and, unlike most natural disasters, the impacts of asteroids can be prevented."

Implementing the National Strategy and Action Plan for the preparation of near-Earth objects "will significantly improve the ability and disposition of the United States to prevent, prepare and prevent the harmful impacts of asteroids."

Comets and asteroids pbading 28 million miles from Earth's orbit are officially clbadified as near-Earth objects, or NEO. Those that are predicted to pbad within 4.6 million miles of Earth – less than 19.5 times the Earth-Moon distance – are known as potentially hazardous asteroids or PHAs.

There were 18,310 NEO known until June 18 and more than 1,885 known PHAs, 57 of which are more than 3,280 feet – one kilometer in diameter. Such objects are informally known as "planetary destroyer" because an impact would cause a global catastrophe. The impact of an asteroid about six miles in diameter about 65 million years ago led to the extinction of dinosaurs and many other species.

"NASA is confident that it has discovered and cataloged all near-Earth asteroids large enough to cause global damage and determined that they are not in the process of colliding with Earth, but there is still the possibility that large comets from the outer solar system and impact on Earth with warning times as short as a few months, "says the action plan.

In 1994, Congress ordered NASA to identify and characterize, in 10 years, 90 percent of all comets and asteroids with diameters greater than one kilometer – .62 miles or 3,280 feet – traveling in orbits that can to cross with the Earth I walk around the sun.

In 2005, the search was expanded to include the identification of 90 percent of near-Earth objects with diameters greater than 460 feet.

"Since 2005, the number of NEO cataloged in this scope has almost tripled, while the total number of NEO cataloged has increased almost five times," the action plan indicates. "However, according to a 2017 report from NASA's NEO Scientific Definition Team, current observation capabilities are adequate to find only less than half of all 140-meter objects by 2033, and the planned improvements will remain insufficient 19659022] 062018-deepimpact.jpg "srcset =" 062018 -deepimpact.jpg 1x "/>

One technique to possibly divert an impending asteroid would be to crash a robotic spacecraft in the target at high speed. This image shows the explosion caused when a small 820 pound impactor launched by NASA crashed into Comet Tempel 1 in 2005 at a relative speed of 23,000 mph.


Action plans call for expanding NEO search, simplifying inter-agency communications to address potential threats, educating local and state emergency management personnel, and developing more detailed plans to divert an asteroid in a collision course with Earth . [19659002] Lindley Johnson, senior planner at the Office of Planetary Defense Coordination at NASA headquarters in Washington, said engineers envision three basic techniques for diverting an incoming asteroid, all of which require months or years of prior warning.

One method would use the so-called "gravitational pull", a spacecraft that would fly in tandem with the approaching body to gently push it off course with its own tiny gravity. Another technique involves crashing a robotic spacecraft into an asteroid at an extremely high speed to deflect it from the course. A demonstration flight is planned in the early 2020s.

A third, more drastic option would be to detonate a nuclear device near the approaching body, not to break it, but to heat its surface to the point where it the pen would do it effectively. will fly it out of its path

But any flight would require a warning, enough to launch a spaceship on missions that lasts more than a year to reach the target far enough to divert it from Earth.

Despite President Trump's call on Tuesday for the establishment of a new "Space Force," Johnson said astronauts would not be involved.

"It makes a good movie," he said, but "the type of missions you're talking about here are months or years" in duration make it difficult with our current capabilities for manned space flights. Our studies simply do not show that it is a necessary element. "


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