What would happen if a gigantic asteroid hit Earth? NASA is simulating an ‘asteroid apocalypse’

Today NASA is simulating a fictional ‘asteroid apocalypse’ to play out what would happen if an asteroid impacted the Earth.

The “tabletop exercise” will use a realistic fictional scenario of an asteroid collision with Earth. Although asteroid impacts are rare, NASA is aiming to be prepared for a potential impact by Near-Earth Objects.

Playing out the asteroid impact

The simulation will take place at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference.  It will begin from the fictional premise of a potentially hazardous NEO discovery on March 26. Writing about the fictional asteroid impact, NASA said: “After a “few months” of tracking, observers predict that this NEO – dubbed 2019 PDC – poses a 1 in 100 chance of impact with Earth in 2027 (in real life, the international community has decided that a 1 in 100 chance of impact is the threshold for action). Participants in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects.”

The study of near-earth objects (NEOs)

According to NASA, NASA and its partners internationally have been monitoring asteroids and comets that orbit the sun and come within 30 million miles (50 million kilometres) of Earth’s orbit., also known as Near-Earth Objects (NEOS).

How will the simulation help planetary defense?

Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, said: “These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know. This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments.”

Johnson added: “NASA and FEMA will continue to conduct periodic exercises with a continually widening community of U.S .government agencies and international partners. They are a great way for us to learn how to work together and meet each other’s needs and the objectives laid out in the White House National NEO Preparedness Action Plan.”

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