One of the favorite themes in the Hollywood is the scenario of the apocalypse brought out by the imminent collision of the Earth with a deadly asteroid. But as much as we may enjoy these fictional stories, the sad truth is that such a scenario can become a reality. The White House has made public the preparations that are undertaken for such a situation and it appears that we are not ready to face an asteroid.
The White House published the so-called “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy”. The document seeks to improve the preparations for facing a natural hazard of such a huge extent by enhancing the integration of all the existing assets and adding whatever is lacking or improving whatever is deficient.
NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) are asteroids or comets that have an orbit that brings them closer to the Earth’s orbit or even into it. However, it would not be the first time for an NEO to get into Earth’s orbit. In 2013, in Chelyabinsk, Russia, a 17-metre (56 foot) meteor struck unexpectedly and injured more than 1,000 people. This is why one of the strategies devised by the White House includes the improvement of NASA’s methods to detect meteors and asteroids in time so that disaster is avoided.
The strategies also include the study and prediction of the trajectories of the NEOs, a better emergency system but also the discovery of a way to annihilate such threats.
But there is a lot of work to do in this sense. At the end of the last year, NASA announced that we are not prepared for an asteroid clash. Dr. Joseph Nuth, researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, announced there was not much to do at the moment. Although it seldom happens for dangerous comets or asteroids to orbit the Earth, the threat remains present. Such NEOs are capable of the extinction of all life on Earth. A disaster with the potential of the dinosaur-era one might randomly strike anytime.
Of course, NASA is trying really hard to avoid such an outcome. They are currently working on an asteroid redirect mission by sending a robotic spaceship to visit an asteroid an create an orbiting base for astronauts. Also, they are constantly watching the skies for any possible object that may cross it.
But as unprepared as U.S. can be, other countries appear to be more unprepared. The White House is currently debating a possible collaboration with other nations regarding NEO hazards. An official decision has not been announced, but an impact taking place on a different territory might be highly detrimental to the U.S., too, from an economic and geopolitical point of view.
Image Source: MaxPixel