As technology advances, NASA is becoming aware of an increasing number of near-Earth objects (NEOs). In an effort to coordinate defense against possible future collisions, NASA just established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
The goal of this program is to identify as many NEOs as possible, determine if they are threats, and respond according if any arise. Current methods for preventing impacts are limited. The best plan with our current technology is to deflect rather than destroy. It’s not as easy as simply firing at the incoming NEO, blowing it apart. Experiments predict that if such a tactic were used, gravity would cause the object to reform in as little as two hours. Instead, a standoff explosion using nuclear weapons to alter the course of the asteroid away from Earth would prove much more effective. The key is detecting the NEO in enough time to deploy such a mission.
In conjugation with the PDCO, NASA also recently signed a charter with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for approval to create a Planetary Impact Emergency Response Working Group. The aim of this program is to have members meet regularly to bring awareness of the NEO hazard and how to handle a possible impact.
We are making strides in preserving humanity. That is, if we don’t destroy ourselves first!
Keep looking up,
Published by Julia Mariani
(Source: Space.com, HowStuffWorks)