NASA performs planetary defense exercises to see what would happen if an apocalyptic space stone were to travel directly to Earth.
Participants will discuss possible preparations for studying an asteroid or comet, as well as how they can deviate and reduce the damage caused by an impact.
The space agency has been scanning the sky for more than 20 years, looking for what it calls Near-Earth Objects (NEO & # 39; s).
NEO's are asteroids and comets that orbit the sun and come within 30 million miles (50m km) of Earth's orbit.
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This diagram shows the orbits of the fictional asteroid and the earth and the point where the orbits intersect. The asteroid makes just over 3 orbits of the sun between discovery and the possibility of an impact in 2027
The threat of asteroid effects has been given a prominent place in recent years, especially since the Chelyabinsk fireball in 2013.
The meteor, which burned over the southern Ural Mountains in February 2013, was the largest recorded meteor storm in more than a century, after the Tunguska event in 1908.
More than 1,600 people were injured by the shockwave of the explosion, estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
In preparation for a possible impact, NASA and other international scientific organizations will participate in the Planetary Defense Conference 2019 next week.
A & # 39; tabletop exercise & # 39; will display the realistic but fictional scenarios for an asteroid and a comet on an impact trajectory with the Earth.
The NEO impact scenario was developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS).
The asteroid scenario starts with the assumption that astronomers discovered an asteroid & # 39; & # 39; on March 26. which they think is potentially dangerous for the earth.
After a few months of monitoring, observers predict that this NEO – dubbed 2019 PDC – will pass within 0.05 astronomical units (AU) of Earth.
One AU is the distance between the earth and the sun and corresponds to 92,955,807 miles (149,597,871 km).
In the fictional simulation, NASA claims that the asteroid has a one in 100 chance of crashing into the earth and may land on April 29, 2027.
It is located for the first time 35 million miles (57 million kilometers) from the Earth and is approaching 31,000 mph (14 km per second) and is gradually becoming brighter.
Weeks of observation found it increasingly likely that it would hit the earth in 2027, but details about the shape, size and composition of the asteroid remain scarce.
The only thing known is that the average size of the asteroid can be anywhere between 100 meters and 300 meters (330 to 1000 feet).
More than a month after the first spotting, it continues to fly to Earth and passes the Earth at a distance of 0.13 au on May 13, 2019. It is the next one that is expected to return close to Earth in 2027.
The conference is currently recording the event and deciding on the best course of action.
Experts discuss the dangers of NEO & # 39; s and actions that can be taken to ward off a threatening object.
& # 39; These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense society to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know & # 39 ;, said Lindley Johnson, NASA & # 39; s Planetary Defense Officer.
& # 39; This exercise will help us develop more effective communication with each other and with our governments. & # 39;
This diagram zooms in on the intersection of the orbits and shows the uncertainty in the predicted position of the asteroid (red dots reveal potential places where the asteroid will pass through the earth). The uncertainty region is several times longer than the diameter of the orbit of the moon, but will become smaller as more data is collected about the path and orbit of the asteroid
Crossing the uncertainty area with the earth creates a & # 39; danger walk & # 39; across the surface of the earth. The corridor runs more than halfway around the world (the red dots shown are possible landing locations) on the risk walk
NASA performs planetary defense exercises to see what would happen if an apocalyptic asteroid was on its way to Earth. The Manicouagan impact crater in Quebec, Canada (circled clockwise), is one of our many reminders that asteroids have impacted the Earth
The conference will also discuss a hypothetical comet effect scenario.
This fictional event states that a comet was seen on April 4, 2019, and could collide with Earth on February 28, 2021.
It has a turnaround time of several thousand years and astronomers speculate that the core is probably only about 1 km in size.
In recent weeks, NASA has announced measures that it hopes to help combat the threat of NEOs.
The conference will also discuss a hypothetical comet effect scenario. This fictional event states that a comet was seen on April 4, 2019, and could collide with the Earth on February 28, 2021. It has a turnaround time of a few thousand years.
Astronomers speculate that the core is probably only about 1 km in size and that it can have all the red dots on this map. In recent weeks, NASA has announced measures that it hopes to help combat the threat of NEOs
On April 11, the space agency announced that its radical mission to shoot a small spacecraft directly into an asteroid now includes SpaceX.
It selected Elon Musk's aerospace company to launch its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which will start in June 2021.
The groundbreaking mission will be the first demonstrated attempt to deflect an asteroid by deliberately crashing an object at high speed.
Following the launch of the Vandenberg Air Force base in California on top of a Falcon 9 rocket in 2021, the DART vessel is expected to reach the Didymos object in October 2022, when it is 11 million kilometers from Earth.
The DART mission relies on what is known as a & # 39; kinetic collision body & # 39; – in this case an eight-foot (2.4 m) vessel with electric solar propulsion.
DART focuses on the binary near-earth asteroid Didymos, which measures around 2600 feet (800 m) wide.
In recent weeks, NASA has announced measures that it hopes to help combat the threat of NEOs. The DART mission is based on what is known as a & # 39; kinetic collision body & # 39; that focuses on the binary near-earth asteroid Didymos (artist & # 39; s impression)
Following the launch of the Vandenberg Air Force base in California on top of a Falcon 9 rocket in 2021, the DART vessel is expected to reach the Didymos object in October 2022 when it is 6.8 million miles away from Earth. File photo of a Falcon 9 after the launch
WHAT COULD DO TO STOP AN ASTEROID FALLING INTO THE EARTH?
At present, NASA would not be able to deflect an asteroid if it was on its way to Earth, but it could mitigate the impact and take measures that would protect lives and property.
This includes evacuating the impact area and moving important infrastructure.
Finding information about the job path, size, shape, mass, composition and rotation dynamics would help experts determine the severity of a potential impact.
However, the key to mitigating damage is finding a potential threat as quickly as possible.
NASA is currently making a spacecraft with the dimensions of a refrigerator that is capable of preventing asteroids from colliding with the earth. A test with a small, non-threatening asteroid is planned for 2024.
This is the very first mission to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique for planetary defenses.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) would use what is known as a kinetic impactor technique – hitting the asteroid to change its orbit.
The impact would change the speed of a threatening asteroid with a small part of the total speed, but by doing this well before the predicted impact, this little push will increase over time to a major shift in the path of the asteroid. asteroid from the earth.
A top athlete from the NASA asteroid also recently said that the best way to protect the earth from asteroids is to build a new telescope that she can observe as quickly as possible.
Dr. Amy Mainzer of NASA & # 39; s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said trying to see asteroids with current telescopes was like having a & # 39; lump of coal in the night sky & # 39; tried to find.
In April 2019, her team proposed a new system to identify large meteorites that could cause significant damage.
It would recognize incoming asteroids capable of causing a huge loss of life – just like the meteor who wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
They claim that this would give scientists more time to come up with a strategy to intercept the stone.
A NASA scientist has said that defending the earth against dangerous asteroids is to detect them via heat using an infrared telescope called the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam). Comet Catalina (photo) was captured in 2015 by such a telescope, called NEOWISE
Dr. Amy Mainzer said that trying to spot asteroids through their & # 39; vague & # 39; light, was like they were trying a & lump of coal in the sky of the night & # 39; to discover, but that a proposed Near-Earth Object Camera mission (pictured) that detects heat waves would make it much more accurate
However, incoming space rock is not always spotted prior to their arrival.
Incredible photos released in March 2019 revealed a meteor that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in December with ten times the power of the Hiroshima bomb – but no one detected it.
The incident occurred on December 11, 2018 GMT (3:30 AM EST) on the Bering Sea – between Russia and Alaska – but has only just been discovered.
It is believed to be the second largest meteor explosion in the last 30 years, and the largest since the striking Chelyabinsk incident.
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