Asteroid impact with Earth will be a scenario on which NASA will conduct mock exercises to become ready for such occasions. The Planetary Defense community will benefit from this drill as this will help them understand the facets of a possible disaster and how to successfully respond to it.
A NASA statement said that impact of near-Earth Objects (NEOs) like asteroids and comets and how to prepare for these unforeseen events goes out of the public eye. In this regard, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), space science institutions, and some international partners will meet in a ‘tabletop exercise’ at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference.
Disaster management planning is generally the prime focus of a tabletop exercise to help inform involved participants about the important aspects of any possible disaster and how to accomplish a successful response.
They will conduct a fictional NEO impact scenario developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS). The focus is to investigate how NEO observers, space institutes, emergency officials, decision makers and citizens might respond. Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer said “These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know.”
“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments,” added Johnson.
Astronomers had found a NEO on March 26 that was considered to be hazardous to Earth but after careful observation and tracking, it was predicted that the NEO being called 2019 PDC poses 1 out of 100 chances to hit Earth in 2027. NASA has been a part of six NEO impact exercises till date- three jointly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and at Planetary Defense Conferences (2013, 2015, 2017).
“What emergency managers want to know is when, where, and how an asteroid would impact and the type and extent of damage that could occur,” added Leviticus Lewis, Response Operations Division for FEMA.