Asteroid crash on Earth? Check what NASA just did!

An asteroid crash is a constant threat to Earth. And now a NASA project has been revealed.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:37 IST
NASA along with other federal agencies are assessing the ability to respond effectively to an asteroid impact on Earth. (Pixabay)
NASA along with other federal agencies are assessing the ability to respond effectively to an asteroid impact on Earth. (Pixabay)

NASA keeps a constant watch for ‘potentially hazardous' asteroids which can pose a threat to Earth. NASA is also preparing for the worst case scenario- an asteroid crash. Yes, an asteroid may even crash against Earth. In fact, in a shocking development, an asteroid actually crashed into the planet just a day ago on March 11! Earlier, it was scheduled to fly past Earth at a distance of 2,890 kilometres, but due to the gravitational pull of the Earth, the asteroid was dragged towards our planet and it eventually crashed into it. Thankfully, it did not cause any casualties! The reason being that it was too small, just above a metre, and it crashed in a remote region- Greenland.

However, it certainly draws attention to the fact that asteroids are as dangerous as they are unpredictable and pose a serious threat to Earth. While this asteroid was small, there are bigger asteroids in space that can cause global damage and can even pose a threat to the very existence of humanity and all life forms on Earth.

Now, it has been revealed that NASA has actually carried on a secret mission to deal with such a threat. The space agency NASA, along with FEMA, the United States Space Command, and other federal, state and local agencies came together for a Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise, to assess the ability to respond effectively to an asteroid impact threat to Earth.

Well, the good news is NASA itself confirmed that 'there are no predicted asteroid impact threats to our planet for the foreseeable future' but as seen yesterday, there can be potential threats turning into reality for Earth. To prepare for the worst, the NASA has tested the efficacy of an action plan related to potential natural disasters to ensure full preparedness for any such disaster.

How did this NASA plan work?

In the 2-day long exercise, the agencies worked together to prepare a detailed hypothetical scenario in which astronomers discover a simulated asteroid - 2022 TTX. This theoretical asteroid was large enough to cause substantial damage to the Earth. The simulation had it crashing near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The asteroid was to crash into Earth after six months of its discovery in this simulation exercise.

Due to limitations of current technological capabilities crucial information about the asteroid is available only when the object is relatively close to Earth. The specific details of the asteroid, such as its size and hence its impact and detailed damage remained highly uncertain until just days before the asteroid's simulated impact.

“FEMA is an ‘all-hazards' agency and responds to all domestic disasters and emergencies, so when it became evident this simulated asteroid would impact somewhere within the United States, it required this level of interagency coordination” said Leviticus “L.A.” Lewis, FEMA Detailee to Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters. “This fourth interagency asteroid impact tabletop exercise provided a forum for federal and local government officials to work through what an impending asteroid impact threat to the United States would look like, with the real people that would be needed for such discussions given this type of impact scenario.”

And that means, by the time NASA and other agencies get enough information about the asteroid, the window of opportunity to take action for humanity may not be very long.

However, having said that, this exercise helped "participants to navigate remaining in close coordination across federal and state government levels to ensure all stakeholders knew how and where to access information as it became available to planetary defense experts," NASA said.

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First Published Date: 13 Mar, 09:39 IST
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