Last month experts from other space agencies worldwide and NASA faced a troubling hypothetical scenario. 35 million miles away, a mysterious asteroid had just been discovered, which is heading for Earth. In six months, the space rock was expected to hit. The situation was fictional, the exercise was week-long, and an incoming asteroid was stimulated to help U.S. and International experts practice how to respond to such a situation.
The group learned a difficult lesson through the stimulation. If an Earthbound asteroid is spotted with that bit of warning, it cannot stop hitting the Earth. The experts found out that there is no technology to prevent the asteroid from sticking, given the scenario’s six-month window. No spacecraft is capable enough to history the asteroid or pushing it away from its path.
Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, helped conduct the recent simulation and helped in five previous ones. Participants up for failure this exercise will set, he said. “It’s what we call a short-warning scenario. It was, by design, very challenging,” he said.
In reality, if any asteroid like the fictional one headed towards Earth, then scientists would need years of warning. According to Paul, five years is the minimum. MIT astronomer Richard Binzel says they would need at least a decade. If faced with a real asteroid threat, Richard said time is the most valuable commodity one could wish for.
But scientists haven’t identified the maximum of the hazardous space rocks that pass near Earth, making the chances significantly less that we would get five years or ten-year warning period. Congress tried to address this issue by mandating that NASA must find & track 90% of all Earth near objects 140 meters or larger in 2005. At that size, a city the size of New York could be obliterated by the asteroids. To date, NASA has spotted only 40% of the object.