If fears of an asteroid destroying the planet keep you up at night, Nasa has some potentially reassuring news for you — it’s officially establishing an asteroid detection program.
The Planetary Defence Coordination Office (PCDO) will now coordinate all of Nasa’s attempts to catalogue risky Near Earth Objects, as well as working with government agencies to protect the Earth should a threat become reality.
“The formal establishment of the Planetary Defence Coordination Office makes it evident that the agency is committed to perform a leadership role in national and international efforts for detection of these natural impact hazards, and to be engaged in planning if there is a need for planetary defence,” said Lindley Johnson, lead program executive for the PCDO, in a statement.
Nasa’s planetary defence goals include developing technology for deflecting or redirecting objects on an impact course with Earth. One potential method is using a ‘gravity tractor method’ of defence — using the mass of another object to pull the asteroid from its collision course with our planet. If such defence was impossible, Nasa will provide advice and expertise to government agencies in order to develop emergency response to both impact and aftermath.