Report on Near-Earth Object Impact Threat Emergency Protocols (NSTC 2021)

Worst case outcome

Source: NSTC

The Near-Earth Object Impact Threat Emergency Protocols (NITEP) Interagency Working Group (IG) was convened by the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Subcommittee on Space Weather, Security and Hazards (SWSH) to initiate key policy development called for in the 2018 National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan.’ The Subcommittee requested tangible products that will meet the strategic objectives outlined in the Action Plan with the aim of strengthening the ability of the Nation to effectively respond when an asteroid or comet is discovered that may be on an impact trajectory with Earth.

The NITEP IWG coordinated implementation of five select actions within the National Near-Earth Object (NEO) Strategy and Action Plan associated with Goal 5: Strengthen and Routinely Exercise NEO Impact Emergency Procedures and Action Protocols:

  • Action 5.2. Establish a procedure and timeline for conducting and updating a threat assessment upon detection of a potential NEO impact.
  • Action 5.3. Revisit and validate the current notification protocol chain-of-command for NEO threats.
  • Action 5.4. Develop protocols for notifying the White House and Congress, State and local governments, the public, foreign governments, and other international organizations regarding NEO threats.
  • Action 5.6. Establish a procedure and timeline for conducting a risk/benefit analysis for space-based mitigation mission options following a NEO threat assessment.
  • Action 5.7. Develop benchmarks for determining when to recommend NEO reconnaissance, deflection, and disruption missions.

The IWG included representation from relevant departments, agencies, and components across the Federal Government, and began its work in September 2019. This document summarizes the implementation of these objectives, and identifies recommendations for continued progress in strengthening NEO impact emergency procedures and action protocols.