By Blanc Berard
Are you worried about asteroids ending the world? Don’t be, NASA’s got us covered.
Within NASA there is an organization called the Planetary Defense Coordination Office that is trying to keep track of asteroids that come within a cosmological spitting distance of Earth. This is a highly technical term, that is defined as a couple of million miles. And the reason, I stated “try to keep track” is because there are thousands of asteroids that we know of and more are constantly being discovered.
The responsibility of the PDCO is to catalog all known asteroids or anything that could cause damage to Earth. Then track their trajectory and see if it could potentially be a threat. If the space object appears to be a threat, a warning goes out to the government and the public offices. NASA will try to coordinate with other space agencies in order to implement the appropriate response.
What Response? I’m so glad you asked. Right now, the current plan seems to be shooting spacecraft at it! In fact, NASA is testing this plan with two asteroids that are not a danger to Earth just to see if it will work. The test is called DART (Double Action Redirection Test) and if all goes well DART will hit its target and redirect the asteroid’s orbit. DART is projected to hit its target on September 26, 2022, and if you want to watch a countdown you can go here.
And if you want to learn more about PDCO or DART you can go here: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/pdco/index.html#dart-overview