NASA confirms it would fail protecting Earth from an asteroid impact in 14 years

NASA conducted an internal report on the likelihood of it succeeding in protecting Earth from a devastating asteroid impact penciled in for 2038.

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NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which is tasked with the agency's ongoing mission of finding, tracking, and defending Earth from asteroids and comets, has published a report that found NASA doesn't currently have the infrastructure in place to defend Earth from an asteroid impact adequately.

NASA confirms it would fail protecting Earth from an asteroid impact in 14 years 65146556

The report explains an internal exercise conducted by NASA on a proposed scenario for an asteroid impact. The proposed scenario was as follows: 72% chance of an asteroid impact in 14 years on July 12, 2038, and requirements for preventing its impact are unknown. The asteroid is between 196 and 2624 feet in diameter but is more likely to be between 328 and 1049 feet.

There is a 45% chance its impact will affect no one, a 47% chance more than 1,000 people will be affected, a 28% chance of 100,000, an 8% chance of more than 1 million people, and a 0.04% chance 10 million will be affected. The impact area was across multiple populated regions such as Mexico, the United States, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

"Sustaining the space mission, disaster preparedness, and communications efforts across a 14-year timeline would be challenging due to budget cycles, changes in political leadership, personnel, and ever-changing world events," the report says.

The many internal organizations participating in this tabletop exercise found critical shortcomings in NASA's response to the scenario, with many of the main problems being in the internal planning and communications departments. For example, the report found there isn't a clearly defined process in place to respond to such an asteroid and that only one Earth impact prevention test has been demonstrated (Double Asteroid Redirection Test).

NASA confirms it would fail protecting Earth from an asteroid impact in 14 years 63626

"The process for making decisions about space missions in an asteroid threat scenario remains unclear. The process has not been adequately defined in the US or internationally," states the report

To fix these problems NASA has recommended "periodic briefings and exercises to continue to raise awareness of planetary defense and increase readiness for preparation and response to an asteroid impact threat."

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NEWS SOURCES:theregister.com, nasa.gov

Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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