Those worried about planetary destruction can sleep a little easier tonight, because it turns out that NASA have a new office to avoid potential doomsday asteroids.
The Huffington Post report that the office, called ‘The Planetary Defense Coordination Office’, are going to oversee all of the space agency’s efforts to detect and track near-earth objects, and work with other federal agencies, as well as other nations to protect us if the worst should happen.
Lindley Johnson, the head of the department, has perhaps the most outrageously cool job title ever, ‘Planetary Defense Officer’ – seriously, that’s the most badass sounding job ever!
The formal establishment of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office makes it evident that the agency is committed to perform a leadership role in national and international efforts for detection of these natural impact hazards, and to be engaged in planning if there is a need for planetary defense.
— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) January 7, 2016
Recently, NASA has been stepping up its efforts to protect us all from rogue asteroids. They’ve been working with the National Nuclear Security Administration to work out how to use nuclear weapons to deflect asteroids heading towards us, which sounds an awful lot like the plot of Armageddon.
They also have a backup plan in the eventuality that bombing it doesn’t work. The new department will work to prepare people on Earth by alerting those in the potential impact zone and assisting emergency response agencies, although we’re pretty curious quite what could be done to help an area after a giant lump of fiery rock falls on it.
About 1,500 new near-Earth objects every year are detected by NASA, and the agency believes it has found about 90 per cent of objects which are 3,000 feet or bigger.
Now, they want to find the smaller but still dangerous objects of around 450 feet or larger, of which they’ve so far found about 25 per cent.
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said:
Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously… While there are no known impact threats at this time, the 2013 Chelyabinsk super-fireball and the recent ‘Halloween Asteroid’ close approach remind us of why we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes to the sky.
So, with this new office, it looks like we’ll all be a little safer from asteroids – or as safe as you can be from huge fiery rocks shooting towards the planet!