NASA Teams Up With US Government Agencies to Prepare for Asteroid Impact

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Earth Impacting Asteroid - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.03.2022
Last year, NASA launched a specialised spacecraft dubbed DART that was designed to divert asteroids and comets endangering Earth. The initial concept device is expected to prove that it can actually accomplish the tasks it is meant for.
NASA has conducted a month-long exercise to prepare for an asteroid impact. Not that there is one threatening Earth right now, but the US space agency wants its personnel and American officials to be ready if and when one should arise. Thus, it organised a special training exercise on a hypothetical asteroid collision.

"While NASA has previously led and participated in simulated asteroid impact scenarios, this specific exercise marked the first time an end-to-end simulation of this type of disaster was studied", Lindley Johnson, a planetary defence officer, said during the Planetary Defence Interagency Tabletop Exercise.

Johnson explained that conducting such exercises can help "government stakeholders" to identify a potential threat and take appropriate action before the need "to respond to an actual asteroid impact threat" and not a hypothetical one. He added that an asteroid impact is essentially the only natural disaster so far that humanity can reliably predict and even prevent.
The exercise, which was hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, was divided into stages corresponding to ever increasing levels of awareness of officials of the asteroid threat. With the current level of technology, no government can predict an impact when an asteroid is too far away. However, once a potential candidate for activating planetary defence is found, it is the job of government agencies to determine how much damage it could inflict and what the probability of a hit is.
That was the first stage of NASA's exercise after the scientists "discovered" the hypothetical 2022 TTX asteroid that was due to collide with Earth in six months, according to the scenario. As the participants of the exercise progressed through the scenario, they received additional information on 2022 TTX's properties, helping them take further steps to avert disaster.
NASA did not reveal if the participants of the exercise were successful in diverting the threat and what methods they used. However, NASA's Planetary Defence division recently developed a prototype spacecraft that is believed to be capable of redirecting dangerous space objects that might hit Earth – DART (short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test). The spacecraft was test launched in November 2021 and will attempt to alter an asteroid's path in order to prove that it is a concept that works.
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