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International Asteroid Day: Are we ready?

  International Asteroid Day: Are we ready? ESO / M. Kornmesser
"Oumuamua", the first interstellar asteroid, is shown in an artist illustration. It is longer and varies brighter than any asteroid that is formed in our solar system.

(CNN) – Saturday is the International Asteroid Day, which commemorates Earth's largest recorded asteroid impact while focusing on the real danger of asteroids colliding with Earth.

River Podkamennaya Tunguska in a remote Siberian forest of Russia. The event leveled trees and destroyed forests over 770 square miles, the size of three quarters of the state of Rhode Island. The impact knocked people in a city 40 miles off the ground.

Five years ago, an asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Russia. It exploded in the air and released 20 to 30 times more energy than the first atomic bombs. It generated brightness that was greater than that of the sun. It emanated heat, damaged more than 7,000 buildings and injured more than 1,000 people.

The shock wave broke Windows is 58 miles away. It has gone undetected because the asteroid came from the same direction and the same path as the sun.

And it explains why astronomers and the Asteroid Day group want people to be aware of it. According to a recent survey by Pew, 62% of US adults believe that monitoring asteroids or objects that could hit Earth should be one of NASA's top priorities

NASA and other space organizations around World focus on detecting the threat of near-Earth objects or NEOs. Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets whose orbits they place within 30 million miles of the Earth.

There are currently no known NEOs that pose a significant threat, NASA announced last week. NASA's NEO program finances and builds on the tracking and tracking efforts of US and space observatories and collaborates with other observatories around the world.

According to Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of NASA's OSIRIS Rex mission, asteroids hit Earth all day. Most of them are so small that they burn in the atmosphere. But small asteroids can still cause damage, especially if they explode in the air over a city like Chelyabinsk. And the smaller they are, the heavier the asteroids become.

But new technology and planetary defense plans could change that.

An Asteroid Action Plan

Last week, the US National Science and Technology Council released the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan, which plans efforts over the next decade under NASA, the Office of Science and Technology coordinated by FEMA. This plan is based on a strategy first developed by the US government in 2016.

The objectives of the plan include improving NEO detection, tracking and identification, improving predictive modeling, developing technologies to distract and disrupt NEOs, and developing international cooperation prepared for NEOs and preparing emergency and action protocols in case of NEOs Impact

The damage that an asteroid can cause depends on its size. The one who killed the dinosaurs was 15 kilometers wide. Scientists have mapped 90% of the asteroids one kilometer or more in size and know that they are not a threat, said Detlef Koschny, head of the European Space Agency's near-Earth object team.

But we only detected and mapped less than one percent of NEOs that are less than one kilometer in length. The smaller the asteroid, the greater the likelihood that it hits the earth. According to Koschny, every 10,000 years, 10,000 asteroids meet every 10,000 years and 50-meter asteroids.

Asteroids, which like Chelyabinsk are about 20 meters long, occur on average every 10 to 100 years. "We will definitely see something like this again in our lives," Koshcny said.

According to the new report, NASA will search for asteroids that are only 50 meters wide. So far, they have focused on larger, 100-meter-wide and larger, because they can affect entire regions and continents. But also asteroids smaller than 50 meters can cause considerable damage. There are 10 million NEOs larger than 20 meters and 300,000 objects larger than 40 meters which, according to NASA, could pose a risk of collision, but they are hard to spot just days in advance.

The Asteroid Institute is also partnering with Google Cloud and Analytical Graphics Inc. to track asteroid discoveries using a cloud-based platform for the Asteroid Decision Analysis and Mapping project

This was deliberately planned because in a few years The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will come online and will enable the discovery of tens of thousands of asteroids in orbit that could bring them closer to Earth, said Ed Lu, managing director of the Asteroid Institute and former NASA astronaut.

"There will be much more data and observations on asteroids," said Lu. "We are getting ready for this flood of data and, together with our partners, we are working to understand how well we can determine if an asteroid will hit Earth, and more observations will mean less uncertainty." [19659017] Asteroid Missions

In 2005, Congress mandated NASA to search for at least 90% of the NEOs, which are at least 140 meters tall, by 2020. Since then, the total number of cataloged NEOs has increased fivefold, estimates suggest that by 2033 we can only find less than half of these objects. Therefore, the new plan focuses on improving NEO detection and promoting these skills.

Currently several missions are planned and planned to investigate and distract asteroids.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will fly through space for two years to reach an asteroid named Bennu, a large, round space rock that has made it onto the potential NASA list hazardou's asteroid. That said, Bennu is one of the most dangerous space rock we know because one day he might collide with Earth. It started in September 2016 and will be coming to Bennu later this year to investigate the composition of the asteroid.

On Wednesday, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 reached the diamond-shaped asteroid Ryugu

three years after the start of its mission spaceship is 12.4 miles from the asteroid, from where there is a projectile in the rock with the aim of sampling from below the surface start digging out. Later, Hayabusa2 will sit on the asteroid and collect the samples. It will leave Ryugu in December 2019 and eventually return to Earth by the end of 2020.

The double asteroid diversion test (DART), which will start in the early 2020s, will meet with the near-Earth asteroid Didymos. While Didymos is 800 meters wide, it has a secondary body or moon 150 meters wide and closer to a NEO hazard. DART will deliberately hit the asteroid and change the speed of the moon. Space probes that can alter the orbit of a NEO could be used to protect the earth from larger asteroids.

"DART is the first NASA mission to demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique – the asteroid hits its orbit – – to defend against a possible future asteroid impact," said NASA's NASA planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson, in Washington, DC. in a press release. "This approval step takes the project towards a historical test with a non-threatening small asteroid."

NASA's Asteroid Redirect mission was designed to develop a robotic spacecraft that would collect a more-ton rock from the surface of a NEO and redirect these boulders into orbit around the moon – proving that we are orbiting of a NEO on a less threatening path. However, the mission was canceled at the end of 2017.

The new plan suggests the development of diversion and disruption missions, such as gravity tractors, kinetic impactors (such as DART) and even a nuclear explosive device that could break asteroids of a certain size into smaller pieces that would dissolve.

While this sounds like the preparation for the Last Judgment from "Deep Impact" or "Armageddon," the asteroids for which they are intended would probably not cause the end of all humanity.

What if an asteroid? beats the earth?

Currently, NASA estimates that we need ten years in advance to prepare for a collision course with Earth. The more asteroids we catalog, the greater our chance to pursue them and mitigate the risk in such a large timeframe.

And if we are informed ten years in advance, sophisticated plans must be in place and communicated globally] "If there is an evacuation, where do you evacuate?" said Debbie Lewis, a specialist in asteroid risk management and communications. "Instead of a tent-village scenario, I'd hope they could put together something more comprehensive." Ten years into the announcement, emergency planning communities can begin to do something. "

NASA & # 39; s in the US The Planetary Defense Coordination Office's mission is to enable fast and accurate communication about potentially dangerous objects. The new US Action Plan envisages efforts by NASA and FEMA to streamline the risk of an approaching asteroid to the public, to establish evacuation in potential impact areas, and other emergency scenarios if we are only briefed days or months in advance.

Two telescopes continually scan the night sky to detect objects that are bright enough, which works well for large objects, but smaller objects can not be detected until they are so close to the moon, Koschny

said If only you have two of these telescopes on the planet and each telescope needs three weeks to cover the entire sky, you really need to be lucky that a small asteroid crosses your field of vision if you look in the right direction, "he said. "That's why we're currently developing extremely wide-angle telescopes that can scan the entire sky within 48 hours."

We also need to be able to find smaller NEOs at their final access, days or weeks. Englisch: bio-pro.de/en/region/stern/magazine/…1/index.html be able to implement civil defense – be it an evacuation or a haven, said Mark Boslough, professor of earth and planet science at the University of New Mexico and chair of the Asteroid Day panel of experts

In the case of events like Chelyabinsk, where little asteroids fly into the air, it's about raising awareness of what's not to be done.

"We need to make sure people understand when there is a big, unannounced puff of air do not go to the window or look outside in the bright lightning in the sky," said Boslough.

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