(INTELLIHUB) — In the event that a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) was to ever pose a threat to the surface of the Earth the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) according to official government nomenclature is “responsible for providing timely and accurate information to the government, the media, and the public on close approaches to Earth by potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) and any potential for impact.”
“If any PHO is found to pose a significant chance of impacting Earth (greater than 1 percent over the next 50 years), the PDCO will provide notification messages for NASA to send to the Executive Office of the President, the U.S. Congress, and other government departments and agencies,” the official PDCO website states.
National Policy Directive 8740.1 makes it clear that “it is NASA policy to provide timely and accurate reporting of a very close approach or predicted impact of a naturally occurring near-Earth object (NEO), such as an asteroid or comet that might cause damage to the surface of the Earth, in accordance with direction from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive Office of the President (EOP) letter dated October 15, 2010.”
The directive makes it absolutely “mandatory” that NASA employees comply by law and release the said information to agencies listed in Attachment C: Other Federal agencies to be notified of a close approach or potential impact by a PHO (in priority order). Those agencies are as follows:
C1. The National Security Council (NSC)/Director for Space Policy
C2. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)/Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics
C3. The National Military Command Center (NMCC)/Duty Watch Officer
C4. U.S. Strategic Command/Joint Force Component Command Space/Vandenberg Air Force Base/Joint Space Operations Center Duty Watch Officer
C5. The U.S. Department of State/Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Science, Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs
C6. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Operations Center Duty Watch Officer (if the event will impact, or cause effects within, the territory of the United States)
C7. The U.S. Northern Command/Operations Center Duty Watch Officer
Additionally, the Nasa policy directive classifies near-earth objects in a very precise and specific manner. That manner is as follows:
Near-Earth Object (NEO): an asteroid or comet that has an orbit that brings it within 1.3 astronomical units (AU), approximately 120 million miles, of the Sun. They may also be referred to as either a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) or an Earth Approaching Comet (EAC) as appropriate. Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO): includes NEAs and EACs coming within 0.05 AU, about 5 million miles, of Earth. All comets are considered PHOs when coming this close to Earth because the size cannot be readily determined. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are further discriminated as those of a size that could survive entry through Earth’s atmosphere and could be expected to cause damage at Earth’s surface (e.g., >50 meters in size).
The International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) is another often unmentioned agency that is tasked with strengthening our planetary defense capabilities and shortening international response times to a potential NEO impact threat. The agency’s primary directive is short and sweet–to the point and simple.
Via iawn.net, IWAN’s functions are:
- To discover, monitor, and physically characterize the potentially hazardous NEO population using optical and radar facilities and other assets based in both the northern and southern hemispheres and in space;
- To provide and maintain an internationally recognized clearing house function for the receipt, acknowledgement and processing of all NEO observations;
- To act as a global portal, serving as the international focal point for accurate and validated information on the NEO population;
- To coordinate campaigns for the observation of potentially hazardous objects;
- To recommend policies regarding criteria and thresholds for notification of an emerging impact threat;
- To develop a database of potential impact consequences, depending on geography, geology, population distribution and other related factors;
- To assess hazard analysis results and communicate them to entities that should be identified by Member States as being responsible for the receipt of notification of an impact threat in accordance with established policies
- To assist Governments in the analysis of impact consequences and in the planning of mitigation responses.
Next publically announced NEO close approach is on Thursday, May 14.
Warning: The object will come within the moon’s orbit around the Earth.
Asteroid 2020 JN close approach
Asteroid designation: 2020 JN
Discovery Station: Catalina Sky Survey
Close approach date (UTC): 2020 05 05.14
Close approach distance (× lunar distance): 0.65
Latest orbit & observations
Withal, did you know that there is actually a Planetary Defense Officer or PDO? Just think about that for a moment? This guy is a few steps up from an air-traffic controller, to say the least.
Lindley Johnson is NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer and Program Executive of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
Mr. Johnson graduated from the University of Kansas in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and a commission from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps. He served 23 years active duty in the Air Force, obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel and numerous awards and decorations while working on national security space systems. He also earned a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Southern California. After coming to NASA in 2003, he served as Program Executive for NASA’s Deep Impact mission. He was then Lead Program Executive for NASA’s Discovery Program of mid-class planetary missions for eight years.
Mr. Johnson became Program Executive for NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program in 2003. Since then, efforts of the Program have discovered nearly 17,000 near-Earth asteroids, about 90 percent of the total known.
Mr. Johnson has received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal. Asteroid 5905 (1989 CJ1) is named “Johnson” to recognize his efforts in detecting NEOs. Mr. Johnson is a private pilot and owns a Cessna Cardinal.
The question is–after knowing all of this would the U.S. government warn the general public of an asteroid or a series of asteroids were going to strike?
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