Space agency NASA wants to save the earth from any kind of apocalyptic catastrophe from the space side, if any. The chances are very less, but the space agency in the US wants an earth-saver plan, just in case. NASA has officially unveiled a program for NEO (near-Earth objects) detection and tracking that will be formalized at the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
NASA’s PDCO will remain within its Planetary Science Division, in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington DC. According to the press release, PDCO will be taking care of all responsibilities for all NASA-funded projects to detect, track and characterize comets and asteroids that comes closer to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement:
“Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously. While there are no known impact threats at this time, the 2013 Chelyabinsk super-fireball and the recent ‘Halloween Asteroid’ close approach remind us of why we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes to the sky.”
The task of detecting potentially hazardous objects, or PHOs, is not only assigned during the collision course with Earth, the office will also make sure no such PHOs will come within 7.5 kilometers of the Earth’s orbital path. Note that to qualify as a potentially hazardous object, it must have at least 30-meter diameter before it could reach the Earth’s surface. Even, this office will also scan the space for potential collision of asteroids and comets to the nearby planets to Earth, such as Mars or Venus, which could also send the debris towards the Earth after the collision.
According to the report by CNN, scientists are concerned over those 1.9 million asteroids which has larger than a kilometer diameter that are moving in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. This belt has millions of more asteroids that are less than a kilometer in diameter, but has the potential to reach the Earth’s surface. This belt between Jupiter and Mars planets has nothing but a large chunks of rock and other debris left over during the formation of the solar system that happened approximately 5 billion years ago.
According to the geologists, the Earth has been hit by a massive comet around 66 million years ago, which precipitated the massive K-T extinction, largest loss of life in a single event ever. Gulf of Mexico crater is said to be formed by this collision.
NASA has a budget of a whopping $50 million for the Planetary Defense Coordination Office for the year 2016.
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