The threat of an asteroid colliding with Earth is a real danger, as indicated by a large fireball and explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in early 2013.
An early warning asteroid strategies report has been released as a public document following a workshop hosted by Secure World Foundation in September. It has yet to be reviewed by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN)’s Steering Committee, or endorsed or adopted for implementation.
Sergio Camacho, a workshop participant who chairs the U.N. Action Team on near-Earth objects (NEOs), a group that was established in 2001, said in a statement, “We made very good progress toward identifying the main issues involved with communicating with the media and public regarding warnings of possible NEO impacts and other related issues.”
Researchers have been devising ways to discover and track objects as well as generate early warnings of a potential impending impact. Such work includes United Nations Action Team 14, which for years has been deliberating regarding gathering and analyzing NEO data to ensure timely warnings to national authorities if a potentially dangerous object was to threaten the planet.
The recent workshop included experts from the near-Earth asteroid science, policy and emergency management communities and risk communication.
According to the Near Earth Object Program, NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined as asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 AU (roughly 7,480,000 km or 4,650,000 mi) or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less. There are currently 586 known PHAs.
For more information on NEOs and PHAs, visit: https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/about/basics.html.