NASA opens Planetary Defense Coordination Office
“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 defense,” said Lindley Johnson, the newly minted Planetary Defense Officer, in a statement
More than 13,500 near-Earth objects of all sizes have been discovered to date—more than 95 percent of them since NASA-funded surveys began in 1998. About 1,500 such objects are detected each year.
NASA has been engaged in worldwide planning for planetary defense for some time, and this office will improve and expand on those efforts.
“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The office is also developing long-term planetary defense goals that include “asteroid redirect” concepts. NASA would use missiles to push threatening object off course and away from Earth.
NASA is poised for the worst case scenario as well.
“Even if intervention is not possible, NASA would provide expert input to FEMA about impact timing, location, and effects to inform emergency response operations. In turn, FEMA would handle the preparations and response planning related to the consequences of atmospheric entry or impact to U.S. communities,” the space agency noted.