If Earth was about to end, here’s how Nasa would alert us

An asteroid approaches the Earth. Near-Earth asteroids are a constant threat to our planet.

We have a specialised team at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to alert us in the event of a potential asteroid collision. Their job is to monitor near-Earth objects (NEOs) and notify the public in case of an approaching global catastrophe.

The team is led by Lindley Johnson, the lead programme executive for NASA’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office (PDCO), who recently disclosed the agency’s detailed plan for alerting the public to forthcoming dangers and taking preventative measures.

Any object that passes within 30 million miles of Earth but does not trigger an alarm each time it is spotted is classified as a NEO by the PDCO. On the other hand, it records every NEO it discovers.

According to him, “We want to find all those before they find us,” he stated to Business Insider.

Here is how NASA has organised a series of actions to alert people to the possibility that a near-Earth object (NEO) could seriously endanger Earth’s population:

Finding asteroids
For planetary defence, NASA works with the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), enabling astronomers to alert observers when a potentially harmful NEO is seen.

They disseminate the results throughout the network so that other scientists may assess the discoveries’ potential threat and verify their veracity.

Johnson said to BI that although NASA has “formal procedures” for alerting of a “serious impact,” he does not “have a red phone on his desk.” Its estimated location will determine where to send out the warning call.

If the US was threatened by an asteroid
When an asteroid threatens the US, NASA will first get in touch with the White House.

The executive branch will then decide on public notification tactics, such as using the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to send messages to mobile phones and preempting TV shows with an official announcement.

People are already aware of local crimes and natural disasters because to cell phone warning systems. Public service messages encouraging senior citizens to refrain from using cell phones could be aired by the government during TV shows.

Should an asteroid pose a threat to other countries
IAWN intends to get in touch with the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs to alert other countries if the asteroid is not predicted to strike the US or is so big that it poses a threat to other nations.

Assessing the danger
The IAWN evaluates the threat that a NEO poses to life on Earth using a number of criteria.

When an asteroid approaches Earth and is larger than 460 feet, it is considered “potentially hazardous” and represents one-twentieth of the distance between Earth and the sun.

According to Johnson, IAWN has found over 34,000 NEOs and placed them in a database at the Minor Planet Centre so that NASA can forecast their path for roughly a century.

Protecting Earth
In the event that an asteroid poses a threat to Earth, NASA uses a variety of tactics to identify and neutralise it, such as sending spacecraft into the asteroid’s path to alter its course.

According to Johnson, the space agency may not be able to execute a deflection mission and will instead utilise a missile or other weapon to destroy or divert an asteroid if its impact is predicted to occur in less than five years.

Written by Istafa Ali


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