NASA reveals new plan to stop asteroids before they hit Earth
NASA has updated its plans to deflect potentially hazardous Earth-bound asteroids — and none of them involve Bruce Willis.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a new report today (June 20) titled the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan.” The 18-page document outlines the steps that NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will take over the next 10 years to both prevent dangerous asteroids from striking Earth and prepare the country for the potential consequences of such an event.
Officials with NASA, FEMA and the White House discussed the new asteroid-mitigation strategies in a teleconference with the media today. “An asteroid impact is one of the possible scenarios that we must be prepared for,” Leviticus Lewis, chief of FEMA’s National Response Coordination Branch, told reporters during the teleconference, adding that a catastrophic asteroid strike is “a low-probability but high-consequence event” for which “some degree of preparedness is necessary.”
“This plan is an outline not only to enhance the hunt for hazardous asteroids, but also to better predict their chances of being an impact threat well into the future and the potential effects that it could have on Earth,” NASA’s planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson said during the teleconference. 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 U.S. government the processes and protocols for dissemination of the best information available so that timely decisions can be made.”
Protecting Earth from incoming asteroids will be a huge job, but don’t expect astronauts to do it, NASA said. “That’s something relegated to the movies — it makes a good movie, but we do not see in our studies any technique that would require the involvement of astronauts,” Johnson said, adding that all of NASA’s proposed asteroid-deflection techniques “would all be done by robotic spacecraft.”
Five ways to prepare for asteroids