Asteroid Heading for Earth in NASA Tabletop Exercise

During the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference next week NASA, FEMA, and several other organizations will conduct a tabletop exercise of an asteroid heading right for Earth, in an attempt to asses the possibility of a successful response in such a scenario.
Manicouagan impact crater in Quebec, Canada 1 photo
Photo: International Space Station
In recent years, efforts made by space organizations to find ways of removing space threats or at least mitigating their effects have increased, and in 2021 there will even be an attempt to see whether present-day technology can be used to notch a space rock off course.

According to the scenario that will play out next week in Maryland, a potentially hazardous asteroid was discovered on March 26, and has a 1 in 100 chance of hitting the Earth. In real-life, that is the probability threshold that will kick space and emergency agencies into gear.

The exercise will call for participants to discuss ideas for reconnaissance and the deflection of the threat, as well as mitigating the effects of a possible impact.

"These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know," said in a statement Lindley Johnson, NASA's Planetary Defense Officer.

"This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments."

For the mid-term future, NASA plans to expand the scope of such exercises – thus fueling conspiracy theories that claim something is coming our way – to include more U.S. agencies and international partners.

The first mission in space with the goal of changing an asteroid’s course is planned for 2021. Then, a spacecraft called DART will hit a binary asteroid system, 65803 Didymos, at a speed of about 6 km/s (13,400 mph).

The impact is projected to change the asteroid’s course by a fraction of one percent, enough to give NASA and the world the impression that our current technology level is enough to save us from extinction.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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