College Park (United States) (AFP) – This is a hypothetical: a telescope detects an asteroid between 100 and 300 meters in diameter through our solar system at 14 kilometers per second, 57 million kilometers from Earth
"We have to make sure people understand this is not about Hollywood," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he opened the 6th International Planetary Defense Conference at the University of Maryland's campus in College Park
Countries represented include China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and the United States
The idea that the planet Earth may (19659007) But a meteor that blew up in the atmosphere over Russia on February 15, 2013, helped put an end to the sneers. 19659008] On that morning, a 65-foot (20-meter) asteroid appears out of nowhere over the southern Urals, exploding 14 miles (23 kilometers) above Chelyabinsk with such a force that it shattered the windows of thousands of buildings.
But the positive aspect of Chelyabinsk is that it made the public aware, it made the political decision makers aware, "Detlef Koschny, co-manager of the Planetary Defense Office of the European Space Agency (ESA) told AFP
– How many? –
Only those asteroids whose orbit around our Sun are bringing them within 31 million miles of our planet – defined as "near Earth" – are of interest
Astronomers are finding new ones every day: more than 700 so this year, for a total of 20,001, said Lindley Johnson of the NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which was created in 2016.
Among the most risky is a rock named 2000SG344: 165 feet in diameter, with one in 2,096 chance
The majority are very small but 942 are more than 0.6 miles across, estimates astronomer Alan Harris.
The scientist told an audience that some big ones are
They are found mainly by two US telescopes, one in Arizona and the other in Hawaii. ESA has built a telescope for this purpose in Spain and is planning for it rs in Chile and Sicily
Many astronomers are demanding a space telescope because terrestrial telescopes are unable to detect objects on the other side of the Sun
– Deflecting an asteroid –
This week's exercise seeks to simulate global response to a catastrophic meteorite.
If it is less than one of the two choices: try to deflect the object, or evacuate
If it is less than 165 feet, the international consensus is to evacuate the threatened region. According to Koschny, it is possible to predict the country it will strike two weeks ahead. Days of impact, it can be narrowed to within hundreds of kilometers
What about bigger objects?
The plan, instead, is to launch a device toward the asteroid to divert its trajectory – like and a cosmic bumper car
NASA plans to test this idea on a real asteroid 492 feet across, in 2022, with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission
One issue that remains is politics, says Romana Kofler of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
"Who would be the decision making authority?" she asked. "The consensus was to leave this aspect out."
The United Nations Security Council would probably be convened, but it is an open question as to whether the rich countries would finance an operation if they were not in the sight of 2000SG344 or Another Celestial Rock