While Near Earth Objects or NEO might not be a leading threat that our planet is facing at the moment, it is definitely something that can leave a trail of disaster behind. In case such a NEO happens to spell doomsday for human race, the White House has prepared a contingency plan. The 19-page contingency report from the White House accounts for every possible scenario and threat level that can be caused by the unprecedented intruder.
What Are NEOs?
NEOs are big or small cosmic objects lurking out in the space. They follow trajectories that are dangerously close to the Earth. Most of these NEOs are harmless, passing by the blue planet without causing trouble. Almost all the comets or asteroids that are seen shooting across the night sky are NEOs. But they never end up on the surface of the earth.
However, there have been some rare instances in the past where NEOs almost landed on earth. One such instance can be recalled as that of the incoming space rock near Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. Fortunately, it was detonated in the skies.
The US government is taking no chances since there is no way of knowing if the next one meets with the same fate. Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy.” The report suggested that the United States has spent decades waving off the issue of NEOs as a trivial matter. However, it is finally ready to acknowledge it as a real threat.
OSTP On Tackling NEOs
The report was drawn up by a group of experts. They were called the “Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-Bound Near-Earth Objects” or DAMIEN. Among the number of goals outlined is the need to effectively track down the NEOs long before they are en route to earth. Also, it necessitates the need for in-depth research on best ways to deflect or disrupt a NEO.
Due to the unpredictability of an NEO’s trajectory, it is impossible to determine when and where such an object might strike. Hence, the report also puts forward a number of national and international emergency measures. It looks into means that can be implemented by the government and the masses to recover from a NEO strike.
But the extensive report was created during the last few days of the Obama administration. Its uncertain if the new administration, under Donald Trump, will use the report. It is also unknown at this point whether Trump will allocate fund for the program.