While obliteration by way of giant meteor sounds appealing to some people at this point, others would very much like to avoid going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon. Those in the latter group will be relieved to hear that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has written a 19-page report detailing our "National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy," and it outlines what America needs to do to prevent an asteroid apocalypse:
Overall, the group found the U.S. needs more tools to track space rocks, and that greater international cooperation is necessary. Specifically, the report outlines several goals, including increasing the ability both in the U.S. and in other countries to more rapidly detect [Near-Earth Objects], track their movements and characterize the objects more completely. It also says more research is needed to study how best to deflect and disrupt a space rock that might be on a collision course with Earth. Furthermore, the strategy calls for better and more integrated modeling of NEO trajectories to reduce uncertainties of their orbits and possible impact effects.
If indeed there is a NEO strike, the strategy also seeks to develop coherent national and international emergency procedures for different impact scenarios, be it an object hitting deep ocean, a coastal region or a major landmass. We must be prepared to respond as well as recover from such a blow in an orderly and timely manner, the report finds. [Scientific American]
"This has been something that for years was more or less a laughing matter," Aerospace Corp. Fellow William Ailor told Scientific American. But it might be time to get serious. While President-elect Donald Trump loves space exploration, he has expressed less interest in more terrestrial concerns, and it will be up to world leaders to coordinate if the U.S. wants to adhere to the report's recommendations.
As Ailor understatedly said: "It's a good thing to keep your eye on." Jeva Lange