NASA and FEMA have recently started a collaboration project meant to develop plans and possible responses in the scenario of an asteroid impact. The joint exercise involved not the scenario of how we would manage to deflect an asteroid from its trajectory to Earth given enough time. Instead, they chose to focus on a more scary scenario, the fact that the asteroid will hit.
The purpose of this exercise is to allow NASA and FEMA to plan a response to this type of hypothetical event. The simulated scenarios presented to them was that in 2020 an asteroid will hit the Los Angeles area. The exercise tested how NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would work together in this type of crisis. More specifically, how to evaluate the threat, prevent panic and how to evacuate and protect as many lives as they can from the asteroid impact.
The associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, believes that this scenario will become a reality in the future, as it is a matter of when not if. However, this time in our history, humanity’s technological capabilities allow experts to develop plans on how to deal with the possibility of an asteroid impact through continued predictions and observations, specific response planning and mitigation for a variety of scenarios.
The joint exercise was held on October 25 in El Segundo, California. It brought together several representatives from both NASA and FEMA. Researchers from the national laboratories of the Department of Energy as well as Air Force specialists and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services also took part in the exercise.
Previous exercises involved deflection scenarios but this time the agencies believed that humanity should also be prepared for an asteroid impact and discover feasible responses in the days before the impact and after the fallout. The presented scenario included data of the impact’s footprint, the effect on the infrastructure in the region and number of people that would be displaced. Using this information, the participants planned an evacuation process and tried to discover the best way to communicate relevant information to the public without creating mass panic.
Have you ever considered the possibility of an asteroid impact? How would you react to this type of information?
Image source: Wikipedia