In a mere academic exercise, a team of NASA researchers was confronted with the likelihood that an asteroid would appear on a collision course with our planet and was unable to avoid the impact.
We would have to endure the collision, ”said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer. The expert explains that the panel of NASA scientists was faced with one of the most challenging scenarios ever during the International Academy of Astronautic’s Planetary Defense conference last week and that the team simply was unable to find the solution to avoid the impact, even considering the use of nuclear weapons. The objective of the exercise is also to involve the crisis management and emergency response communities to cooperate and think together about the reaction that we would have to have, as a planet, to divert an asteroid in space.
The NASA JPL Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) team described the hypothetical object, named 2021 PDC, and shared information over the four days of the event. On April 26, participants learned that the object measured between 35 and 700 meters and that there was a probability of a collision of 1 to 20, sometime in October of this year. On the second day, there was a jump in time to May 2, and the observations allowed us to conclude that there was a 100% probability of impact. The project team, with several hundred participants, ended up assuming that it would be impossible to prepare a space mission that could deflect the asteroid or perform any other way to mitigate the danger and prevent the collision in time. The spokeswoman assumed that, given the current state of technology and the way the missions are carried out, it takes at least two years for preparation and development, explains Vice.
On the third day of the exercise, we moved to June 30 and learned that the collision is going to happen in a relatively populated region of Central Europe. On the last day, the participants had to focus the discussion, one week before the collision, on evacuation and crisis response plans somewhere in the south of Prague.
Experts said that it would not be possible to prepare and send a spaceship to divert the asteroid’s trajectory in such a short time and that even the mitigation hypothesis using a nuclear weapon would not be viable. The recommendation was to develop fast-response aircraft that could be put into orbit a few days or weeks in advance.
Remember that NASA is finalizing the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection System) mission, a mission that aims to lay the groundwork for future attempts to divert the trajectories of asteroids that threaten the Earth. In another sense, there is also the NEOSM (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission) that intends to monitor the Solar System for potentially dangerous asteroids and which will be launched later this year.
Source: with Agencies