Planetary defense refers to the efforts to protect the Earth and its inhabitants from the potential threat posed by asteroids, comets, and other celestial objects that could collide with our planet. NASA plays a key role in planetary defense by leading and coordinating international efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) and develop strategies for mitigating the impact of potential collisions.
NASA’s planetary defense program includes a number of activities:
Detection and tracking: NASA operates a network of ground-based telescopes and spacecraft to detect and track NEOs. The agency also partners with other organizations around the world to share data and improve the accuracy of our tracking capabilities.
Risk assessment: Once an NEO has been detected, NASA scientists analyze its trajectory and size to determine the likelihood of an impact and the potential damage it could cause.
Mitigation planning: NASA works with other agencies and international partners to develop strategies for mitigating the impact of potential collisions. This includes both non-kinetic methods, such as deflecting an asteroid using a spacecraft, as well as kinetic methods, such as using explosives to break up an asteroid.
Emergency response planning: In the event of an imminent asteroid impact, NASA works with government agencies, emergency responders, and other partners to develop plans for evacuating affected areas and minimizing the impact of the collision.
NASA’s planetary defense program plays a critical role in protecting our planet from the potential threat of asteroid impacts.