If you still have nightmares about Deep Impact or Armageddon, this news might ease your terrors: NASA has announced the creation of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which will supervise all NASA-funded projects that aim to protect us from near-Earth objects (NEO-s).
There are over 13,500 objects that orbit near the Earth, and they range in size from about 1m to 32km, 96 of these are comets while the rest are asteroids. Even if scientists are confident that 90% of all the asteroids above 1km have been identified, many smaller ones remain hidden.
The office will coordinate any plan to stop potential threats. The PDCO will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any potentially dangerous objects discovered. NASA’s current objective is to find 90% of all the asteroids bigger than 140m by 2020. Until now about 25% of these mid-sized objects have been discovered.
NASA’s long-term planetary defense goal doesn’t only include the observation of the objects, but also developing the technology to deflect or redirect objects that are on a collision course with Earth. Both NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission and the joint NASA-ESA. Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission will, in the next decade, test the possibility of stopping asteroids before they get too close to us.
Napisala: Maria Djerdjaj