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Space & Astronomy

NASA pretends to hit Earth with a large asteroid

By T.K. Randall
May 2, 2021 · Comment icon 10 comments

It's only a matter of time before a large space rock comes our way. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A planetary defense exercise at the weekend ended up 'destroying' an area of Europe around 100km wide.
The risk of a cataclysmic asteroid impact might be small, but it could still happen - which is why every two years, scientists and emergency responders co-ordinate their efforts as part of a fictional threat exercise designed to see how civilization would cope if such a scenario were to actually take place.

Part of the International Academy of Astronautics' Planetary Defense Conference, the simulation this year involved an asteroid that was a mere six months away from colliding with the Earth.

Most of the methods devised to save us from a large asteroid impact involve detecting the space rock while it is still far out in space, thus providing enough time to do something about it.

One possibility, for example, would be to fly a spacecraft into the asteroid - causing a small, but significant change in trajectory that could make all the difference between a hit and a miss.
If the asteroid is very close, however, there may not be enough time for such a mission.

"The best solution to this scenario is not to get into it in the first place," said NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Officer Lindley Johnson.

In the case of this year's planetary defense exercise, it wasn't the outcome that was important (ultimately nothing could be done in the theoretical scenario anyway), but the discussions that went on, the plans that were put into place and the work that was done to predict what would happen.

If we were faced with a situation like this in reality, it would be critical for authorities to co-ordinate their efforts and exercises like this can help to make sure that everyone is as ready as they can be.

Let us hope, however, that it won't be necessary to put this into practice for real anytime soon.

Source: | Comments (10)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Alpha_Q 3 years ago
When they simulate something like this, do they take into consideration that segment of the population that won't act because they don't believe in the asteroid, that think the asteroid is fake - that the whole thing is a mainstream media/socialist scam to somehow take their guns, or remove their president?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Desertrat56 3 years ago
Does that happen anywhere besides the U.S., UK & Australia?  
Comment icon #3 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
Wow, that is really funny, thanks for the laugh.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hawken 3 years ago
Good point, considering how the media is biased and always has narratives to push.
Comment icon #5 Posted by avtomat47 3 years ago
Or perhaps that a percentage of the population will think the asteroid is racist, unfair, should be an entitlement, non binary gendered or is a Nazi?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Alpha_Q 3 years ago
My original comment should have been worded differently. If through some grace of Math scientists are able to pinpoint an impact location, and people refused to evacuate, would they be forced out or left to die? In regards to media narrative -  I imagine a group like CNN would use their typical 'this could happen,' 'what if this were to happen' style of 'news' while ignoring the facts,  while Fox et al would concentrate on 'different opinions' also while ignoring the facts. In regards to a racist asteroid. I doubt the asteroid would be declared racist, but the evacuation plan could be termed... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Desertrat56 3 years ago
Probably depends on the resources the country they are in has.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
It will depend where it fall probably...
Comment icon #9 Posted by Nosy.Matters 3 years ago
Total Conspiracy,  .  . there's an asteroid coming.  .  . Just making light(jest), yeah after all that -- turns out we're *****ed. , ah out of luck.
Comment icon #10 Posted by josellama2000 3 years ago
Title: "NASA pretends to hit Earth with a large asteroid"  I am happy to heard that, and I hope that NASA will soon pretend to do something useful or productive.

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