NASA Prepares For “Asteroid Apocalypse” With “Planetary Defense” Simulation
NASA is going to be using a simulation of an “asteroid apocalypse” in order to help the space agency prepare for the cataclysmic event. And they are taking it seriously, as disaster planners from FEMA will join NASA for a dress rehearsal of doomsday.
International partners, including the European Space Agency (ESA), will also be a part of the simulation. The drill is said to be a “tabletop exercise” that will simulate just how a planetary asteroid emergency would play out in real time. Although an emergency on this scale has never happened, and factors such as the location of impact will have a massive effect on the response to such a globally catastrophic event.
According to the Metro UK, disaster planners from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will join with NASA to hold a “make-believe apocalypse” intended to “inform involved players of important aspects of a possible disaster and identify issues for accomplishing a successful response.” The scenario will begin with the fictional premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” a near-Earth object (a comet or asteroid which comes within 30 million miles of Earth and one they consider potentially hazardous to Earth), NASA wrote.
At first, scientists said there is only a one in 50,000 chance this thing will hit us. Within weeks, those odds become one in 100, reported Science Alert. There are bits of good news and bad news about this approaching object, dubbed 2019 PDC. The good news is 2019 PDC doesn’t exist at all. It’s a completely fictional, imaginary apocalypse. The chance of impact, in actuality, is zero. But it makes for a good simulation and practice for an asteroid apocalypse.
Participants (NASA and FEMA) in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects.
NASA’s been running these simulations for years, and with good reason: Earth, as it happens, is in the midst of an epic asteroid surge compared to the relative peace and quiet the planet experienced many millions of years ago.
When unexpected space rocks do appear on our scopes, sometimes we only get hours’ notice of their existence before they streak past. While the chances of a catastrophic impact are exceedingly slim, we’re nonetheless unprepared for surprise asteroid strikes, which is why NASA is continually working on plans to help improve our NEO detection and mitigation capabilities. –Science Alert
“The first step in protecting our planet is knowing what’s out there,” says the ESA’s Head of Planetary Defence, Rüdiger Jehn. “Only then, with enough warning, can we take the steps needed to prevent an asteroid strike altogether, or to minimize the damage it does on the ground.”