NASA revealed its plans for predicting whether a near-earth object will turn out to be a threat and for protecting the Earth from asteroid crashes.
An asteroid crashing into Earth has been one of humankind's greatest fears, especially after knowing that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. NASA, however, believes that it will be able to protect the Earth from another doomsday incident.
Here's How NASA Will Protect Earth From Asteroids
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an 18-page document titled the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan. The document reveals what NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will do in the next 10 years to protect the Earth from asteroid crashes.
The plan consists of five goals, starting with NASA making enhancements to the asteroid detection and tracking capabilities of the United States. Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer of NASA, said that there are vulnerabilities in the space agency's networks, particularly in detecting smaller objects. A recent example is the asteroid that crashed into the Earth's atmosphere over Botswana on June 2, as it was detected just hours before impact.
Johnson added that if asteroids approached from the Earth's "day side," the sun would be in the way, making it hard to spot them.
The second goal, meanwhile, are improvements on the systems used to predict the chances that an asteroid will hit the Earth. This will help FEMA decide the best course of action in preparation for asteroid impact. The third goal tasks NASA with coming up with new methods for deflecting incoming asteroids.
The fourth goal focuses on international cooperation to prepare for an asteroid crash, under the leadership of the United States. Lastly, the fifth goal is the preparation of a plan that will come into effect if a huge asteroid was discovered to be on a collision course with Earth.
Asteroids Near Earth: Recent Incidents
The asteroid that dissolved over Botswana was just one of several incidents that may have spurred the decision to better prepare the United States and the Earth for asteroid impact.
In May, an asteroid longer than a football field sailed past Earth at just 120,000 miles away, which is the closest distance for an asteroid of that size in nearly 300 years. In April, another large asteroid zoomed past Earth, and nobody noticed it until it already passed.
The Chelyabinsk meteor incident of 2013, however, is likely what caused scientists to think about protecting Earth in the first place.