Image by Don Davis. – NASA

Commentary

Asteroids and Planetary Defense

by michael belfiore

I was talking with a customer support person on the phone yesterday, and somehow the conversation got around to asteroids (don’t ask) and what we can do about an incoming. She was quick to assume there’s nothing we can do about meteorite impacts.

Actually there’s quite a bit we can do about the danger that asteroids pose to planet Earth. I’ve recently been in touch with no less than five organizations that are addressing the problem.

Step one is knowing what’s actually out there. Where are the near-Earth objects, or NEOs, how big are they, what are they made of, and are they likely to hit us in the relatively near future?

These are questions we need to answer to protect outselves, and these are the questions the Planetary Society’s Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant Program seeks to answer. Through this program, the Planetary Society gave a grant to the La Sagra Observatory in Spain to upgrade one of its telescopes with a faster camera. That new camera was what alerted planet Earth to 2012 DA14, an Olympic swimming pool size rock that swung by on a close pass on February 15.

Read more: Asteroids and Planetary Defense | Moonandback.

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