US stepping up Earth's protection from asteroids, comets -

US stepping up Earth's protection from asteroids, comets

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(Meredith) (Meredith)

(Meredith) – The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.

The plan is called the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” and will focus on how the U.S. government will handle objects from space that approach Earth.

The National Science and Technology Council released a report Wednesday calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking, and deflection.

[Click here to read report]

NASA is participating, along with federal emergency and White House officials.

For now, scientists know of no asteroids or comets heading our way. But one could sneak up on us, and that's why the government wants a better plan.

NASA's planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, says scientists have found 95 percent of all near-Earth objects measuring one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) or bigger. But the hunt is still on for the remaining 5 percent and smaller rocks that could still inflict big damage.

“The nation already has significant scientific, technical and operation capabilities that are relevant to asteroid impact prevention,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “Implementing the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan will greatly increase our nation’s readiness and work with international partners to effectively respond should a new potential asteroid impact be detected.” 

The plan establishes five overarching strategic goals to reduce the risk of NEO impacts through improved understanding, forecasting, prevention, and emergency preparedness. The plan will:

• enhance NEO detection, tracking, and characterization capabilities

• improve NEO modeling prediction, and information integration 

• develop technologies for NEO deflection and disruption missions 

• increase international cooperation on NEO preparation, and 

• establish NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols

Achieving these five goals will, for a very modest government endeavor, dramatically increase the nation’s preparedness for addressing the NEO hazard and mitigating any threat, NASA said. 

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects can be found at:

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