College Park (United States) (AFP) – Here's a hypothetical: telescope discovers asteroid between 100 and 300 meters in diameter race through our solar system at 14 kilometers per second, 57 million kilometers from Earth.
Astronomers estimate one percent risk in the space of a rock face to our planet April 27 2027. What should we do?
It is a potentially catastrophic scenario, 300 astronomers, scientists, engineers and specialists in emergency situations apply their collective minds this week in the Washington suburbs, the fourth such international efforts since 2013.
"We need to make sure that people understand that this is not Hollywood," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstin as he opened the sixth conference of the International Planetary protection in the campus University of Maryland in College Park.
Countries represented with & # 39 are China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and the United States.
The idea that the planet Earth may one day have to defend yourself from an asteroid is used to discover what experts call the "giggle factor."
But the meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over Russia February 15, 2013, helped put an end to ridicule.
On the morning of 65 feet (20 meters) from the asteroid & # 39 is out of nowhere over the Orenburg region, the explosion 14 miles (23 kilometers) above the town of Chelyabinsk with such force that it shattered the windows of thousands of buildings.
Thousands of people were injured by shrapnel.
But the "positive aspect of Chelyabinsk to the & # 39 is that he made known to the public, he made a political decision makers are aware of," said Detlef Koschny, co-director of the Planetary Defense Agency European Space Agency (ESA) AFP.
– How much? –
Only those asteroids whose orbit around the Sun brings them within 31 million miles of our planet – are defined as "low Earth" – are of interest.
Astronomers find new every day: more than 700 so far this year, a total of 20,001, said Lindley Johnson, NASA's Planetary Protection Coordination Office, which was established in 2016.
Among the most risky with & # 39 is the name of a rock 2000SG344: 165 feet in diameter, with one in 2,096 chance in a collision with the Earth for a hundred years, according to the ESA.
Most of them are very small, but 942 more than 0.6 miles in diameter, is estimated astronomer Alan Harris.
The scientist told the audience that some of the big ones are probably still there: "Fair share of the largest of them are hiding … mostly parked in the sun"
They are basically two US telescopes, one in Arizona and one in Hawaii.
ESA telescope built for this purpose in Spain and other plans in Chile and Sicily.
Many astronomers require a space telescope, because the ground-based telescopes can not show on & # 39; objects on the other side of the Sun.
– rejected the asteroid –
exercises this week aims to simulate the global response to the catastrophic meteor. The first step for the purpose of telescopes on threats to accurately calculate the speed and trajectory, following the rough initial estimates.
Then it comes down to two choices: try to divert the & # 39; an object, or to evacuate.
If it is less than 165 feet, an international consensus to evacuate the threatened area. According Koschny, it is possible to predict the country will strike two weeks earlier. Days away from the impact, it can be narrowed down within a hundred kilometers.
How about a big & # 39 objects? Trying to nuke them to the ground as in the movie Armageddon would be a bad idea because it can simply create a smaller, but still dangerous pieces.
The plan, instead, to launch the device to the asteroid to deflect its trajectory – as a cosmic bumper.
NASA plans to test this idea in the real asteroid 492 feet in diameter, in 2022, with the mission of Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
One question that remains is the policy, says Roman Kofler, Office & # 39; the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
"Who would have a decision to make power?" She asked. "The consensus was to leave this aspect to."
Security Council & # 39; the United Nations is likely to be convened, but it is an open question as to whether the rich countries to finance the operation if they have not been in the sights 2000SG344 a celestial rock.